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#112 Bob Tillman

01/31/2013

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There’s very little that’s notable about this card of Bob Tillman other than the catcher’s mitt that appears to be freakishly large. Tillman was a catcher who played nine seasons in MLB mostly because he was a catcher. His similar batters list includes legends of the game like Kelly Stinnett and Damon Berryhill.

To be fair, Tillman actually had a very good 1964 season. He set career highs in pretty much every category, catching 131 games for the 72-90 Red Sox. He had 17 homers, 61 RBIs and a .796 OPS (116 OPS+). It was the only season in which he collected more than 100 hits (he had 118).

Otherwise, Tillman was a part-time player who never really did much offensively. His greatest claim to fame is catching no-hitters thrown by Earl Wilson (1962) and Dave Morehead (1965).

He hit for some power in the minors (including 24 HR in AAA in 1960), and followed that up with a rookie season with the Red Sox in which he hit 14 HR in only 273 PA. It’s clear the Red Sox expected him to be a slugger, because he hit fourth in his first two career starts. Tillman homered in his first official at-bat (he walked twice before that).

But he wasn’t very good in ’63, and after the strong ’64 campaign he tanked in ’65 and ’66.

Midway through the 1967 season, the Red Sox let Tillman go to the Yankees. After playing sparingly in New York, the Yanks traded him to the Atlanta Braves for a young third baseman named Bobby Cox.

In three seasons as a part-timer with the Braves, Tillman hit a not-terrible 28 homers in 711 PA, but he posted a terrible .211 average, .281 OBP and 14 doubles.

The Braves traded him to the Brewers in December 1970, and the Brewers released him February 1971, two months before the season started. For some reason, Topps made a 1971 card for him showing him as a Brave. I guess they didn’t get the memo.

Tillman died of a heart attack in 2000 at the age of 63.

 

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