Monday, January 18, 2010

Chris Cannizzaro (#497)

Chris Cannizzaro managed to stretch out a career as a backup catcher to 13 seasons.

He began playing in 1956 in the Cardinals' organization. He was there for six seasons, and played a half-dozen major-league games in each of 1960 and 1961.

After the 1961 season, he was selected by the Mets in the expansion draft, and spent the next 4 seasons with the Mets and/or their farm teams. He was New York's #1 catcher in 1965.

Chris played exclusively in the minor leagues during 1966 and 1967. Just before the start of the 1966 season, the Mets traded him to the Braves. After the 1966 season he moved on to the Red Sox, but before the 1967 season started, Boston traded him to the Tigers. Following the 1967 season Detroit shipped him to the Pirates. Although primarily a minor-leaguer in 1968, he did play some games with the Pirates. With all this time spent in the minor leagues, Cannizzaro didn't have a baseball card in 1967 or 1968.

The 1969 expansion was a career-saver for Cannizzaro. In March 1969, the Pirates traded him (and pitcher Tommie Sisk) to the Padres for infielder Bobby Klaus and outfielder Ron Davis. Cannizzaro became the Padres' regular catcher for 1969, starting 128 games behind the plate. He was also on the All-Star team. He was the regular catcher again in 1970, starting 100 games (to Bob Barton's 57 starts).

After 1970, his playing time decreased dramatically. Bob Barton took over the starting catcher's job, and in May Chris was traded to the Cubs. He was acquired by the Dodgers in the off-season, and played for them in 1972 and 1973.

The Dodgers released Cannizzaro following the 1973 season, and a few months later he was signed by the Astros. In 1974, his only playing time with the Astros came in 40 minor-league games. In August he was sold to the Padres, where he finished the season in the majors.

His last major-league game was in September 1974, but he appeared briefly in the minors after that: 4 games in 1975 and 1 game in 1979.

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