Monday, July 15, 2013

Unknown Heroes Before My Time Pt. 7: Rich Gedman

I have always been a big fan of catchers.  Tony Pena was an early favorite player solely on the basis that he was the team's catcher when I first started watching baseball.  So of course I gravitated toward Rich Gedman, whose tenure in Boston was over just the season before my interest in baseball.  It helped that Gedman was a fan favorite in Boston.

Gedman made his Major League debut in 1980 and finished second in the Rookie of the Year vote in 1981 when he hit .288/.317/.434 with five home runs and 26 RBIs in 62 games in the strike-shortened season.  Gedman dealt with some injuries for the next two seasons before breaking out in 1984.  That season he hit .269/.312/.506 with 24 home runs and 72 RBIs.  The next season he was an All Star for the first time as he hit .295/.362/.484 with 18 home runs and 80 RBIs.  At that time he was considered one of the better young catchers in the Major Leagues.  Gedman was still just 25 and looked to have a bright future in front of him.

In 1986, Gedman made his second All Star team as he hit .258/.315/.424 with 16 home runs and 65 RBIs.  He helped the team make it to the World Series and hit .357 in the ALCS and .200 in the World Series against the Mets.  Unfortunately he allowed a costly passed ball that set up the game-winning hit in Game 6.

In the spring of 1987, Gedman signed a late free agent contract and was likely one of the many victims of collusion.  He did not sign until May, despite having been an All Star in the previous two seasons.  That coupled with injuries lead to him only playing in 52 games and hitting just one home run.  The next season he improved somewhat, but his numbers were still down as he hit just .231/.279/.368 with nine home runs and 39 RBIs.  His numbers further declined in 1989 and he lost a lot of time to Rick Cerone behind the plate.

Tony Pena was signed as a free agent prior to the 1990 season and Gedman was shipped to Houston after just ten games.  Gedman then played parts of two more seasons with the Cardinals.  In 1993 he played in the Yankees minor league system before hanging it up.

Rich Gedman was a very good catcher for three years and looked to be one of the best catchers in the league.  Unfortunately injuries took their toll, but he was still a fan favorite.  I thought he would have an autograph in this year's Archives set, but that apparently fell through.  Hopefully some day.  His 1982 Donruss card was an early card that I sought heavily until I eventually added it to my collection.

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