1966 Topps Baseball Wantlist

Monday, April 11, 2016

Ted Simmons the most forgotten modern catcher?

A little behind in noting this Yadi accomplishment and I would be remiss not to write a piece on Yadi becoming the all-time Cardinal’s game caught catcher surpassing Ted Simmons on April 7th. Yadi has now caught over 1,440 games for the red birds. Ted Simmons AKA Simba was THE catcher for the Redbirds from 1968-1980 or for the first 12 of 13 years of my Cardinal’s Nation’s existence. But I would be lying if I would say I remember too much about that and the 1982 World Series against the Brewers is the most vivid memory I have of Simmons.

Simmons was the Redbird’s first round pick in the 1967 MLB Draft. After converting Joe Torre from catcher to third baseman Ted became the full-time Card’s catcher. How good was Ted? Well for his 1972 All-Star year he had a .303 batting average, 16 home runs, and 96 runs batted in. Regarding his defense he had a .991 fielding % and led NL catchers in assists and putouts. This wasn’t a fluke because in 1973 he had a .310 batting average, 13 home runs, and 91 runs batted in. Again he led the league in assists but was second in putouts all of which netted him his second consecutive All-Star nod.

After a down year in 1974, or down by his standards Simmons hit 18 home runs, had 100 runs batted and a career-high .332 batting average. He finished second behind the “Bulldog” Bill Madlock for the NL batting championship and he set the NL record for hits by a catcher for a single season at 188.

Johnny Bench ruled the starter’s roost for the All-Star game (9 straight years) until Simmons was given the honor of starting the 1978 mid-Season Classic. What is amazing is that he led the Redbirds in RBIs every year from 1972 until 1978! In 1980, his last with the Birds he hit .303, had 21 home runs, and 98 runs batted in and won the inaugural Silver Slugger Award.

As the result of a feud with Whitey Herzog he was traded to the Brewers December 1980. For his career Ted Simmons played in 2,456 games, had 2,472 hits, 8,680 at bats, a .285 career batting average, 248 home runs, 1,389 runs batted in and a .348 on-base percentage. Defensively he had a .986 career fielding percentage.  NOTE: all the above is modified from Wiki.

Yet after all of this he isn’t in the Hall of Fame-


  1. I think it was Bill James -- or the guys with Baseball Forecaster -- who coined the phrase "The Steve Carlton Path to Retirement" for guys who hung around the majors long enough for their numbers to get so wretched that people forget how good a player the guy was in his prime.

    I think Simmons qualifies for this. He's a unique player -- no one has a similarity score higher than 863 (Miguel Tejada). He was a bit aloof at times, certainly, but he was also erudite and spent his time and money on things like the opera and art museums.

    He is the top eligible catcher not in the HOF by JAWS and WAR (Ivan Rodriguez becomes eligible this year and should make it, I'd say). There are several HOF catcher below him on the list -- Buck Ewing, Ernie Lombardi, Roger Bresnahan, Ray Schalk and Rick Ferrell (also Roy Campanella, who I view as different thanks to his color keeping him out of the majors at the beginning of his career).

    I fully agree with you that he is overlooked, and I've said as much on my blog a few times too.

    1. Fantastic overview Tony, thank you

  2. I agree his numbers get overlooked. In between playing the same time as Bench and the Cardinals being a bad team in the 1970s, Simmons did not get much media attention.

    1. True, was just talking to my wife that had they had one solid play off run he would be in.

  3. I definitely remember Simmons from my childhood. But it seems like the card companies have dropped the ball. It'd be nice to see him in a future Topps Archives Fan Favorites Autograph issue. I know I'd buy one for my collection.

    Off to read about the argument him and Whitey had ;)

    1. Just read an interesting article that listed a few cool facts:

      1. Career batting average was 18 points (or higher) than Johnny Bench, Gary Carter, and Carlton Fisk.

      2. Had more career hits and RBI's than those three HOFers.

      3. Hit more doubles than Brooks Robinson, Reggie Jackson, Jimmie Foxx, and Roberto Clemente.

      4. Simmons retired as the NL career switch-hitting home run king.

      5. Simmons and Bench share the exact same career fielding percentage... which ranks them 6th among HOF catchers.

      If you're bored, here's the article...