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  • Writer's pictureJoe Pace

New England Sports 366, #67: Rich Gedman

It was preseason baseball evaluations for the boys this morning, so I find myself thinking about my earliest baseball days. Pony League and the Stratham Astros. I was a decent defensive catcher with no discernible offensive skills - a little speed on the base paths, though as my coach once observed archly, you can’t steal first base.

I wanted to be a catcher because of Rich Gedman. This guy was clearly no thoroughbred athlete, no Apollo come to earth. He was a lunchpail dude, a guy who did the dirty work behind the plate and was unafraid to wear his spectacular spectacles during games. I loved Gedman’s quiet consistency over his 11 Boston seasons (1980-1990). He hit .259 for the Red Sox with 83 homers, but his presence was as a backstop. He made the All-Star Game in 1985 and ‘86, and caught Roger Clemens’ 20-strikeout game in 1986. I put more blame on Bob Stanley than on Gedman for the wild pitch in Game Six that fall, and I won’t argue that.

A Worcester native, Gedman made his MLB debut in 1980 pinch hitting for Yaz, and he wore the rose hose until 1990 when the Sox traded him to the Astros for a player to be named later and Tony Pena took over behind the dish. Injuries and diminishing skills had been takin their toll since 1987, and Gedman as primarily a backup for three seasons in Houston and St. Louis. But he’ll always be one of my favorite players from when I was a kid, even if he’s only the third-best catcher the Red Sox have had.

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