22-year-old World Series catchers

This weekend, Ken Rosenthal wrote a column in which he discussed the fact that St. Louis will be starting 22-year-old Yadier Molina at catcher. Rosenthal quoted an AL GM as asking, “How many teams have ever won a World Series with a 22-year-old catcher?” The question is clearly rhetorical, implying that it’s pretty difficult for a team with a young backstop to win it all.

The actual answer to the question is two, and one of those young catchers was a Cardinal. In 1964, Tim McCarver had a nice .288/.343/.400 year as a 22-year-old, and followed it up with a phenomenal .478/.552/.739 World Series line to help the Cardinals beat the Yankees in the Fall Classic. The other 22-year-old catcher on a World Champion was the Dodgers’ Mike Scioscia, in the strike-shortened 1981 season. Scioscia appeared in 93 of the team’s 110 games that year, and hit a respectable .276/.353/.331 (followed by an unimpressive 5-for-32 postseason).

As far as I could tell in my 5 minutes of searching, those guys are the only 22-or-under starting catchers for World Champs. It’s also worth noting that in 1970, 22-year-old Johnny Bench led the Reds to the NL Pennant with a 45-homer, 148-RBI, MVP-winning performance.


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