Glancing Back, and Remembering Jim Pagliaroni
Jim Pagliaroni was strictly a 1960s catcher. All but one game of his decade-long career was played in the 1960s, where he toiled for four teams with defensive prowess, occasional pop in his bat, and a cool head that helped two pitchers toss no-hitters, and one do so perfectly.
Pagliaroni was signed by the Boston Red Sox in 1955. He appeared in one game that season and didn’t reappear in the major leagues until he was brought up from the minors for 28 games in 1960. In 1961 Pagliaroni appeared in 120 games, more than any other Red Sox catcher, and posted a .242 batting average with 16 home runs and 58 runs batted in. In 1962, he batted .258 with 11 home runs and 37 RBIs, and caught his first no-hitter, pitched by Bill Monbouquette against the Chicago White Sox.
In the off-season, Pagliaroni was traded with pitcher Don Schwall to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Jack Lamabe and Dick Stuart. He started the 1963 season as the backup to the Pirates’ regular catcher, Smoky Burgess, but when Burgess was sidelined by injury, Pagliaroni stepped into the everyday playing role, batting .239 with 11 home runs and 26 RBIs. His best season in Pittsburgh came in 1965, when he batted .268 with 17 home runs and 65 runs batted in. In his five seasons in Pittsburgh, Pagliaroni hits a combined .254 and averaged 10 home runs and 37 RBIs per season.
In December 1967, he was purchased by the Oakland Athletics. He played in 66 games, including the perfect game hurled by Catfish Hunter. He batted .246 with six home runs and 20 RBIs for the Athletics.
Pagliaroni split the 1969 season between Oakland and the Seattle Pilots, batting a combined .241 in 54 games. He retired at age 31 after the 1969 season.
Pagliaroni finished his major league career with 622 hits and a .252 batting average. He led all National League catchers in fielding percentage in 1966.