Happy Birthday Benny- A brief look at Padres’ catching history
A player who went on to play ten seasons for the Friars was also on the 1969 team. That man was Fred Kendall. Kendall was never really fantastic for the Friars, but he was on the team for a while. Kendall’s best season came in 1973, hitting .282 with ten home runs. He is also the father of former Pirates’ catcher, Jason Kendall.
From the first year of the franchise to the last year, the Padres made the World Series. We now take a look at the 1998 catching crew. The 98′ crew was quite an interesting one, as three of the five men behind the plate went on to broadcasting after their career came to an end.
Ben Davis is part of the Phillies’ broadcasting team. Former Yankees World Series hero, Jim Leyritz, did radio for MLB Radio, and more recently, for Angels’ Radio and, of course, Carlos Hernandez has been the color analyst for Padres’ games in Spanish for a few years now.
We now transition from the broadcasting booth to the dugout. It’s a known fact that many catchers go on to become managers, and the Padres had quite a few backstops who have become MLB managers. Some notables include Pat Corrales, Bob Geren, current Angels’ skipper Brad Ausmus, and most notably future MLB Hall Of Famer, Bruce Bochy.
When “Boch” makes the Hall Of Fame a few years down the road, he will not be the only Hall Of Famer to wear the mask for the Friars. At the age of 37, in 2006, Mike Piazza had an all-star campaign for the Friars, but would not make the MLB All-Star Game that year. Piazza would hit 22 bombs and record a batting average of .283 with a SLG of .501 for the Padres. Apart from having a great season, Mike had a legendary moment at Shea Stadium.
The “Sultan of Shea” earned a video tribute and a nice standing ovation from Mets’ fans on game one. Then came game two. The Padres were down four to nothing. Hall Of Famer Pedro Martinez was on the mound. The fourth inning came, and what would the Mets legend do?
He hit a home run off the Red Sox legend, of course. Then came the top of the sixth, and again Piazza went yard off Pedro. Mets fans were filled with joy, as they were thrilled to see their former hero go yard twice in his return to Shea. This was a legendary moment in the career of Mike Piazza, and it is quite hard to believe it came while wearing a Padres’ uniform. The Padres would fall short in that game, losing four to three, but the moment was still special. Piazza would not start in the last game of the series, leaving that legendary moment as his last at Shea Stadium. Take a look at it for yourself.
Now we are in the present era, and the Padres have had some decent backstops. Nick Hundley and Yasmani Grandal were an interesting pair as they were complete opposites. Nick Hundley was the epitome of humility, and, well, Yasmani Grandal was not. Another interesting catcher was Rene Rivera, who, like Hundley, was very humble, and he was a great receiver with the Pads. The pitching staff always enjoyed throwing to him.
In 2020, the San Diego Padres have Austin Hedges and Francisco Mejia, who are battling it out in spring training for the starting role. There are other intriguing backstops in the Padres’ organization like Luis Torrens and Luis Campusano.
Benito Santiago still goes down as the best catcher in team history. Still, there is an opportunity for Austin Hedges or Francisco Mejia to make a run at that title possibly.
Francisco, 26, Chula Vista/Tijuana. I have been a Padres fan all my life, did most of the series previews and recaps in the Padres’ 2016 season for EVT. Now I focus more on the local soccer scene. Tijuana Xolos, San Diego Loyal, San Diego Wave.
Kennedy was a doubles machine. Benny was good during his time here. A bit of a hotdog in my opinion. I’d still put Kennedy first. I think the pitchers weren’t fond of Benny’s framing and receiving.