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Smallthoughts: Old School Tuesday …Ted Simmons

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Simmons the Braveted simmonsSimmons the Brewer

Ted Simmons was contempories of Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk and Thurman Munson but was often overshadowed and wasn’t regarded in the same way like Johnny Bench, but he was someone you didn’t want to see come to the plate at anytime especially with runners on. While he didn’t hiot for the same power as Bench he did hit for a high average and did a good job with driving in runs.

He made his major league debut with the Cardinals, appearing in two games during the 1968 pennant-winning season, while playing most of the year in the minor leagues.[1] Simmons spent another year in Triple-A baseball before returning to the major leagues in 1970 where heplatooned alongside catcher Joe Torre. In 1971, the Cardinals converted Torre into a third baseman and Simmons took over as their starting catcher, posting a .304 batting average with 7 home runs and 77 runs batted in. He finished 16th in balloting for the 1971National League Most Valuable Player Award as the Cardinals finished in second place behind the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League Eastern Division.

Simmons refused to sign a contract for the amount of salary offered by the Cardinals in 1972, electing to play without a contract. He ultimately signed a contract well into the season during which he was recognized as one of the top catchers in the league by earning a spot as a reserve on the 1972 National League All-Star team.[11] He finished the year with a .303 batting average with 16 home runs and 96 runs batted in, breaking Walker Cooper‘s team record for RBIs by a catcher and, set the team record for home runs by a catcher, previously held jointly by Gene Oliver and Tim McCarver.His defense began to improve as well, posting a .991 fielding percentage and leading National League catchers in assists and in putouts.Despite the Cardinals finishing the season in fourth place, Simmons would finish in 10th place in the National League Most Valuable Player Award balloting. Simmons continued to produce offensively in 1973 with a .310 batting average, along with 13 home runs and 91 runs batted in.[1] He also led the league’s catchers in putouts and finished second in assists, earning his second All-Star berth as the Cardinals again finished the season in second place.

In 1975, Simmons hit 18 home runs along with 100 runs batted and posted a career-high .332 batting average, finishing second in the National League batting championship behindBill Madlock. He also set a National League single-season record for most hits by a catcher with 188. He finished in 6th place in the National League Most Valuable Player Award balloting as the Cardinals ended the season in fourth place. Simmons broke Johnny Bench’s nine-year stranglehold as the starting catcher for the National League All-Star team when he was elected to be the starting catcher for the National League in the 1978 All-Star Game.Simmons led the Cardinals in RBIs every year from 1972 until 1978. He had another strong year in 1980, hitting .303 with 21 home runs and 98 runs batted in to win the inaugural Silver Slugger Award which is awarded annually to the bestoffensive player at each position.

After feuding with Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog, Simmons was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in December 1980. His batting averaged fell to .216 in his first season in the American League but, he rebounded in 1982 with a .269 batting average with 23 home runs and 96 runs batted and led American League catchers with a .995 fielding percentage in 121 games. The Brewers clinched the American League Eastern Division title, then defeated the California Angels in the 1982 American League Championship Series. Simmons met his old team, the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1982 World Series, hitting two home runs before the Brewers lost in a seven-game series.Simmons had one more good year in 1983 when he hit for a .308 batting average with 13 home runs and 108 runs batted in and earned his eighth and final All-Star berth. His batting average fell to a .221 in 1984 and in March 1986 he was traded to the Atlanta Braves. He spent three seasons with the Braves as a utility player and pinch hitter before retiring as a player in1988.

Career statistics

In a twenty-one-year major league career, Simmons played in 2,456 games, accumulating 2,472 hits in 8,680 at bats for a .285 career batting average along with 248 home runs, 1,389 runs batted in and a .348 on-base percentage.He ended his career with a .986 fielding percentage.[1] An eight-time All-Star, he batted above .300 seven times, reached 20 home runs six times, and eight times exceeded 90 runs batted in. He switch-hit home runs in a game three times and established a since-broken National League career record for home runs by a switch-hitter (182). Simmons held major league records for catchers with 2,472 career hits and 483 doubles, since broken by Iván Rodríguez. He ranks second all-time among catchers with 1,389 runs batted in and 10th with 248 home runs.[23] He caught 122 shutouts in his career, ranking him eighth all-time among major league catchers.

Smallthoughts:Old School Tuesday salutes …the tough and volatile Ted Simmons.

Highlights

  • 8-time All-Star (1972–74, 1977–79, 1981, 1983)
  • Silver Slugger Award (1980)
  • 7-time hit .300 or more (1971–73, 1975, 1977, 1980, 1983)
  • Caught two no-hitters as a Cardinal: Bob Gibson in 1971,[31] the first of Bob Forsch‘s two career no-hitters, in 1978.[32]
  • Twice led the National League in intentional walks (1976–77). He ranks 15th in the All-Time list with 188.
  • He was featured several times in the commemorative DVD for the 1982 Milwaukee Brewers – Harvey’s Wallbangers.
MLB debut
September 21, 1968 for the St. Louis Cardinals
Last MLB appearance
October 2, 1988 for the Atlanta Braves
Career statistics
Batting average .285
Hits 2,472
Home runs 248
Runs batted in 1,389
Teams
Career highlights and awards
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