Voting to find the Los Angeles Dodgers’ all-time catcher begins as the Dodgers continue to seek the fans’ choices for the “All-Time L.A. Team” on dodgers.com. The list of catchers on the ballot includes a Rookie of the Year, a two-time Gold Glove winner, a World Series Tri-MVP, a two-time All-Star, and the man who has caught more games behind the plate than any other Los Angeles Dodger.
The catcher candidates feature Mike Piazza, who hit more homers than any Los Angeles Dodger catcher (177); Johnny Roseboro, who won the Gold Glove Award in 1961 and ’66; Steve Yeager, who spent 14 of his 15 seasons in Los Angeles; Paul Lo Duca, whose 25-game hitting streak in 2003 is the fifth best in team history; and Mike Scioscia, the plate-blocking specialist who caught 1,395 games in Dodger Blue.
Piazza was drafted by Los Angeles in the 62nd round of the 1988 First-Year Player Draft, but took the league by storm in his rookie season of 1993. The Pennsylvania native hit .318 with 35 homers and 112 RBI (both Dodger rookie records), made the All-Star team, and was unanimously selected as the NL Rookie of the Year.
Piazza also won the Silver Slugger Award, an accolade he would win every full season he finished in a Dodger uniform (1993-97). Viewed by many as the greatest hitting catcher of all-time, Piazza finished second in the MVP vote after the 1996 and ’97 seasons and was named the 1996 All-Star Game MVP in his hometown of Philadelphia.
In the five full seasons Piazza played for the Dodgers, he averaged 33 home runs and 105 RBI while batting .337. Piazza also set the Los Angeles Dodger single-season mark with a .362 batting average in 1997 and remains the only Dodger to hit a home run completely out of Dodger Stadium during a game.
Roseboro had the tough task of replacing Dodger Hall of Famer Roy Campanella in 1958, but did so admirably, winning Rawlings Gold Gloves in 1961 and ’66 while helping lead the Dodgers to three World Championships (1959, ’63, and ’65).
The Ohio native compiled a .251 batting average with the Dodgers from 1957-67, including 92 home runs and 471 RBI in 1,289 games (second in team history). Roseboro was named to the National League All-Star team as a Dodger in 1958, ’61, and ’62.
Yeager was a defensive specialist who spent 14 of his 15 Major League seasons (1972-85) in Los Angeles with the highlight being his performance in the 1981 World Series. Yeager hit a tie-breaking home run off Ron Guidry in Game 5 at Los Angeles, giving the Dodgers a 2-1 victory and helping him to the 1981 World Series Tri-MVP Award.
The backstop ended up appearing in four World Series and six NLCS, hitting .298 in the Fall Classic. The West Virginia native ranks third on the Los Angeles list for most games caught with 1,181 and after retiring, spent four seasons in the Dodger organization as a minor league coach.
Lo Duca became a fan favorite during his first full season with Dodgers in 2001 when he fanned just 30 times, the fewest by a 25-home run hitter since the Yankees’ Yogi Berra had 30 home runs and 29 strikeouts in 1956. Lo Duca also went 6-for-6 that season in an 11-inning victory at Dodger Stadium against Colorado. His 25-game hitting streak in 2003 was the fifth-longest in team history and he was a member of the National League’s All-Star team as a Dodger in 2003 and 2004.
Scioscia spent his entire Major League career with Dodgers from 1980-92 and compiled a lifetime .259 batting average while being a key member of two Dodger championship teams in 1981 and 1988. Known for his uncanny ability to block the plate, Scioscia holds the L.A. franchise record of 1,395 games played, despite being a part of many violent collisions behind the dish.
The Pennsylvania native’s ninth-inning, game-tying home run against Dwight Gooden in Game 4 of the 1988 NLCS at New York’s Shea Stadium triggered a comeback against the Mets and led the Dodgers to an eventual seven-game series victory. In 1990, he became first Dodger catcher since Roy Campanella in 1954 to start the All-Star Game after making the contest as a reserve in 1989. After his playing career, the cerebral backstop has gone on to become the winningest manager in Angels’ history.
Dodger fans have the opportunity to vote for the “All-Time L.A. Team” at dodgers.com/anniversary, with the results being unveiled next year. The 2008 season marks the 5oth anniversary of the Dodgers’ move to Los Angeles.
The team will celebrate this golden anniversary with fans around the world through a series of historical, cultural and promotional events that are unique to Los Angeles and honor the legacy of the franchise and its players and the loyalty of Dodger fans.