Introducing… Terry Kennedy

Son of former Major Leaguer Bob Kennedy, Terry was a first round pick who became one of the top catchers of the 1980s.  A four-time All-Star, Terry was perhaps the best portside-swinging receiver in the Majors during his career.  He was often in the shadows of Fisk and Carter but was nevertheless a terrific catcher.  He would lead catchers in most baserunners thrown out trying to steal in two seasons and participated in two World Series.

Kennedy was drafted in the first round out of Florida State by the Cardinals in 1977 and was fast-tracked to the Majors.  Terry joined the Redbirds for a cup of coffee late in the 1978 season for his first taste of Major League action.  He was regarded as a possible successor to the great Ted Simmons, who Terry had to backup in 1979.  His playing time increased in 1980, not because he took playing time away from Simmons but because he was tried out in left field on the days he didn’t spell Simba behind the dish.  With Simmons firmly entrenched behind home plate, the Cardinals dealt Terry with a bundle of other youngsters for aging veterans Rollie Fingers and Gene Tenace–stars of the old Oakland dynasty.

The trade to the Padres allowed Kennedy to catch everyday and in 1981 he led catchers in gunning down 48 would-be basestealers in the strike shortened season.  But his breakout year was right around the corner.  Prior to 1982, Terry’s highest single season output in homeruns was just four, however, in ’82, he clobbered 21 long balls and drove in 97 runs.  Terry was one of the top run-producing catchers in the game in the early 1980s.  That ’82 season was Kennedy at his best.  He set personal highs in runs scored, base hits, doubles (his 42 two-baggers were good for 2nd in the NL), homers, slugging average and total bases.  For his exceptional work, he received a few MVP votes.

Almost as good in 1983, Terry drove in a personal best 98 runs that season while drilling 17 homeruns.  Named to the NL All-Star Team, Terry won the Silver Slugger Award for catchers that season.  The Padres, who had been nothing short of a laughing-stock throughout their existence, became a team to be reckoned with in the mid 1980s.  They captured the NL flag in 1984 and Terry clobbered a World Series homerun against Detroit, but in a losing cause.  After falling short on a championship, Kennedy had another fine season in ’85 when he made another All-Star Team and drove in 74 runs for the Padres.

In 1986, Terry socked a dozen homeruns and posted a .990 fielding percentage behind the dish.  But San Diego had an exciting young catcher named Benito Santiago on the rise and they felt comfortable in dealing Terry to the Orioles for pitcher Storm Davis.  With Baltimore in ’87, Terry clubbed 18 homeruns and posted his sixth straight season with at least 140 games played.  Defensively, the All-Star led AL catchers in baserunners thrown out attempting to steal.  But after an injury-plagued season in 1988 the Orioles sent him to the Giants for Bob Melvin in a deal of backstops.

The trade worked well for San Francisco.  Kennedy was their primary catcher and he helped them reach the World Series.  He drove in a pair of runs in a Fall Classic loss to the Athletics.  By this time, after his painful ’88 season, Kennedy had lost his power stroke.  The man who once put together six straight seasons of double-digit homerun totals could only manage two round-trippers in 1990.  He spent one final year in the Majors, splitting time behind home plate with youngsters Kirt Manwaring and Steve Decker.

THE NUMBERS

G 1,491/R 474/H 1,313/2B 244/3B 12/HR 113/RBI 628/SB 6/BB 365/SO 855/BA .264/OBP .314/SO .386

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