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Eugene James Petralli (born September 25, 1959 in Sacramento, California) was a utility baseball player in major league baseball. His career spanned 12 years, from 1982 to 1993.

Contents

Biography

Petralli is the son of former minor leaguer Gene Petralli; his father played the minor leagues from 1948 to 1953.

Petralli graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in Sacramento, and went on to Sacramento City College.

Petralli was married on September 22, 1979 to the former Susan Patterson. They have two sons, James Isiah (born on August 13, 1981) and Benjamin Hastings (born on October 7, 1985). James currently sings and plays guitar in the band White Denim.

Playing career

At six-foot-one and 180 pounds, Petralli was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 3rd round (53rd overall pick) of the 1978 amateur entry draft (January Regular Phase.)

Petralli played for the Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers both of the American League. He played catcher, first base, second base, third base, outfield, and designated hitter. In 809 games over his Major League career Petralli hit 24 home runs, drove in 192 runs, and hit for a .267 average. His best season was 1988 as he amassed 352 at-bats, 7 home runs, 36 runs batted in, and a .282 average. He hit over .300 in both 1987 and 1989.

The promotion of Iván Rodríguez in 1991 signaled the end of Petralli's tenure as the Rangers' primary backstop. After two years as Pudge's backup, he was released after the Rangers looked to veteran Mike Scioscia to fill the role. Petralli signed with the San Diego Padres in March 1994. Neither Scioscia nor Petralli ever appeared in a major-league game again.

Career highlights

  • Petralli gave up 95 passed balls in his career, due in large part to Petralli being the personal catcher for Rangers knuckleball pitcher Charlie Hough. Petralli led all of baseball in passed balls with 35 in 1987 (which surpassed J. C. Martin′s 33 in 1965 for a still-standing single-season record), 20 in 1988, and 20 in 1990.
  • Hit a tying two-run pinch-hit home run in the bottom of the eighth inning off Roger Clemens during a nationally televised Monday night baseball game against the first place Boston Red Sox on August 25, 1986 at Arlington Stadium. The blast, Petralli's second of his career, allowed Rubén Sierra to win the game with a home run in the bottom of the ninth as the Rangers remained close to the California Angels in pursuit of the 1986 AL West title.
  • Petralli was the Rangers' Union Player Representative in 1986.
  • In August 1988 Petralli hit .342 (26 hits in 76 at-bats) over the course of 25 games and was named the Rangers Player of the Month. It was the highest honor he ever received.
  • Petralli's first hit as a Ranger came in a 6-0 defeat at Yankee Stadium on July 12, 1985. Ed Whitson allowed the third-inning single to center field.
  • The final Major League game for Petralli came on Saturday October 2, 1993 in front of over 41,000 fans. The Rangers lost to Tom Gordon and the Kansas City Royals by a score of 7-4. The game was notable because it was the next to last game ever played at Arlington Stadium before the Rangers moved into their new Ballpark in Arlington the next year. Arlington Stadium was turned into a parking lot shortly after the season ended.
  • Knuckleballer Charlie Hough put Petralli in the record books on August 22, 1987. With Hough on the mound, Petralli committed four passed balls in one inning to tie a major-league record. Eight days later, Petralli let six of Hough's evasive deliveries get by him in one game to tie another record. Petralli's 35 passed balls that year -- 32 with Hough pitching -- were the most ever by a big-league catcher.
  • Though he caught Hough in nine more games in 1988 than he had in 1987, Petralli had only 20 passed balls -- still enough to lead the majors again. On the positive side, in 1987 Petralli became the first Rangers catcher to hit more than .300 (.302).
  • The 1987 Texas Rangers set a record for being the only team in Major League history to carry four catchers on their roster for the entire season. Don Slaught, Darrell Porter, Mike Stanley, and Petralli all split time as the team's catcher. Most teams seldom have more than two catchers. The catcher heavy roster did little to help the Rangers as they finished last with a 75-87 record. Many of the foursome would pinch-hit or play designated hitter if not catching. Rangers manager Bobby Valentine never explained his reasons for carrying so many catchers when his team was in such dire need of pitchers.
  • Petralli settled his salary arbitration case with the Rangers on January 20, 1989, agreeing to a salary of $325,000. [1]
  • Petralli caught Nolan Ryan's 300th career win in 1990 on Ryan's second attempt to reach that milestone.[2] (Mike Stanley caught the first attempt six days earlier.[3])

Petralli family in baseball

  • In June 2005 the Detroit Tigers selected Petralli's son Ben [4] with their 15th round draft pick. Like his father, Ben is a switch-hitting catcher from Sacramento City College.
  • Petralli's nephew, Chris Petralli, matriculated at the University of Miami in the fall of 2006 after playing two years at Sacramento City JC. [5].

References

  • 1987 Texas Rangers Media Guide
  • 1989 Texas Rangers Media Guide
  • The Impossible Takes A Little Longer. The Texas Rangers - From Pretenders to Contenders. 1990. Phil Rogers.
  • Street and Smith Baseball Yearbook 1989
  • The Sporting News Baseball Yearbook 1987
  • The Sporting News Baseball Yearbook 1989
  • Recorded interview of Geno Petralli with Norm Hitzges on HSE July 17, 1990.
  • WBAP post game radio interview of Geno Petralli with Eric Nadel on April 14, 1991.
  • Ft Worth Star Telegram story "The Amazing Geno" by Tom Fitzgerald August 30, 1986.
  • Dallas Morning News story "Petralli - Doing it all for the Rangers" May 7, 1989.
  • Street and Smith Baseball Yearbook 1991
  • KTVT Super 11 interview on 10 o'clock news sports segment, June 28, 1988.
  • Mansfield Gazette "Petralli - the funny name and the serious bat." Tommy Wilkerson June 1, 1987.
  • Mike Morrison's Big Book of Rangers Facts. 1996. Makowski Publishing.
  • Retrosheet.org
  • Ryan loses bid for 300. Phil Rogers. Dallas Morning News. July 26, 1990.

External links

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