The more that I collect catchers, the more that I dig into the history of the position. I have discovered a lot about those who have worn the “Tools of Ignorance.” One of the aspects of my research that I have enjoyed the most, is learning about players that were known for playing a certain position (like OF) but started out as a catcher.
For this series of posts, I will focus on a well-known player that debuted as catcher, but later had success at a different position. I will try to stay away from the more obvious references like Craig Biggio.
For this installment, I decided to focus on a more recent player. Though his time at catcher in the majors was limited, it is amazing none the less.
In 1992, the Seattle Mariners selected Raul Ibanez, a little known catcher out of Miami-Dade Community College, in the 36th round.
Over the next five years, Ibanez played 127 games at catcher in the Mariners’ minor league system, though he was playing more games as an outfielder. His most productive year behind the dish was in 1995 which saw Ibanez start 63 games as catcher for the Riverside Pilots. However, in ’96, Ibanez played only 1 game as catcher and 109 as an outfielder.
It is noteworthy that ’96 was also the first time that Ibanez got called up to the majors, yet it wasn’t until ’99 that Ibanez was finally called upon to wear the Tools of Ignorance for a major league team.
On April 13th, the Seattle Mariners were playing the Texas Rangers, when in the top of the 6th inning, Ibanez replaced Dan Wilson as catcher.
The most incredible part of Ibanez’s career as a catcher is the number of cards produced that list him as a catcher: