Saturday, March 10, 2018

Jeff Torborg (#257)

Jeff Torborg was a backup catcher for the Dodgers (1964-70) and the Angels (1971-73).  He never had more than 200 at-bats in a season until his final year. That was also the only season when he played in more than 76 games (102).

Torborg was signed by the Dodgers in 1963 and played only 1 season in the minors before making his debut with LA in May 1964 at age 22. (He had played college ball at Rutgers.) That year he was the team’s #3 backstop behind John Roseboro and Doug Camilli.

After the 1964 season, Camilli was shipped off to the Senators, leaving Torborg as the Dodgers’ #2 catcher for the next 6 seasons, backing up Roseboro from ’65-’67, and Tom Haller from ’68-’70. During that time, he caught Sandy Koufax’ perfect game in 1965 and a no-hitter by Bill Singer in 1970.

Jeff made no starts behind the plate after August 1970, since 3rd baseman Bill Sudakis was converting to catcher, and made all the starts when Haller took a day off.

In March 1971 Torborg was sold to the Angels. He backed up starting catcher John Stephenson in ’71 (Say what? Stephenson was once a team’s #1 catcher? How sad must that team have been?) 

In 1972 Jeff split the starting assignments with rookie Art Kusnyer. Torborg made a career-high 93 starts in his final season, this time with Stephenson and Kusnyer as HIS backups. In May, he caught the first of Nolan Ryan’s seven no-hitters.

After the 1973 season Jeff was traded to the Cardinals, but was released in spring training 1974.

Torborg’s 2nd career was as a manager. He piloted the Indians (1977-79), White Sox (1989-91), Mets (1992-93), Expos (2001), and Marlins (2002-03). Between his Indians’ and White Sox’ jobs, he coached for the Yankees from 1979-88.

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