Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Randy Hundley, Baseball's "Iron Man" Between Gehrig And Ripken

The Catcher Who Didn't Have To Sell Suits...

As an aside question to Chad the other night I asked if he could identify the first Major League player from Henry County.

That question just came off the top of my head as a way to lead into his Carnival submission about UVA Wise baseball games he's been attending lately. The answer I had in mind was Randy Hundley, a product of one of the better deals the Chicago Cubs ever made.

Cecil Randolph Hundley Jr. began his baseball career with the Salem VA Appalachain League team in 1960 at the age of 18 after a very successful High School career at John D. Bassett High School in Bassett, VA, excelling not only baseball but in basketball as well. As a matter of fact, the only statewide basketball championship ever won by JDBHS was in 1959 with Randy as a member of the team. (Though not as a starter, I've been told.)

Randy left Salem for Fresno CA to play for the San Francisco Giants in the minor leagues in 1961, followed by stops at El Paso TX, Tacoma WA, and Atlanta IL, all within the Giants farm system. In 1964 he was called up to "the Show" in San Francisco, played 2 games and got a bus ticket back to Tacoma for part of the 1965 season, coming back to San Francisco for the end of the season where he played for 6 more games.

In December of 1965 Chicago traded Don Landrum, Lindy McDaniel, and Jim Rittwage (remember them?) to San Francisco for unknown and unproven players Bill Hands and Randy Hundley. Somebody was either very lucky or extremely precient.

From 1966 to 1969 Randy caught nearly every Cub game. He set a ML record with 160 games behind the plate (147 complete) in 1968, and became the first player in history to catch 150 or more games for three consecutive years (1967-69), winning the Gold Glove in 1967, and committing just four errors for a NL record.

His son Todd, also a catcher like his father, once held the single season home run record for catchers, again like his father. Todd was also born in Martinsville, (although obviously he had to grow up in Chicagoland) and has played for LA Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, and entered the major league with the NY Mets.

Chad, If you've made it this far, I apologize for the suits thing, JB was my mom's favorite player.....I just couldn't resist.

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