The Passing of Phil Cavaretta- The First Mets Batting Coach
This weekend Phil Cavaretta passed away after suffering a stroke. The Italian /American Cavaretta was the oldest living former Major Leaguer at 94 years of age. Here is the centerfieldmaz original posting from 7/16/10:
Phil Joseph Cavaretta was born July 19, 1916 on the North side of Chicago Illinois to Italian imigrant parents.
He became a star with his home town Cubs, playing there from 1934 through 1954. After a brief seven game debut in 1934 he became the Cubs main first baseman, hitting over .290 nine times, making three All Star appearances & winning the 1945 MVP Award.
His best stretch was from 1943-1947. In 1943 he hit .290 with 73 RBIs posting a .382 on base %. In 1944 he led the N.L. in hits (197) and batted .321 (5th in the league) with a .390 on base %.
1945 would be his best year, he won the N.L. MVP Award and leading the league in hitting (.355) & on base% (.455). That year he drove in a career high 97 runs, scored 94 runs, hit 34 doubles with 10 triples & 6 HRs.
He was amongst the top ten batting leaders four times, on base percentage leaders five times & hits leaders three times. He was among the leagues top ten in triples five times, walks & runs scored four times & RBIs three times.His twenty years with the Cubs is the most of any Cub player except Cap Anson. Lifetime Cavaretta batted .293 lifetime with 1977 hits, 990 runs scored, 347 doubles, 99 triples, 95 HRs, & 920 RBIs.
He appeared in three World Series with the Cubs, losing each time. After a disastrous 3-25 World Series in 1935 he hit well over .400 the next two trips to the Fall Classic.He became the Cubs player/manager in June 1951 succeeding "The Fordham Flash" Frankie Frisch. Over two and a half seasons he compiled a 169-213 record.
Cavaretta was fired in 1954 after he publicly stated that the team wouldn’t finish above 5th place. He managed at the minor league level & then served as a scout before the New York Mets came calling him.
Up until the early seventies batting coaches weren’t the norm yet, and the Mets were no exception. In 1973 GM Bob Scheffing hired Phil Cavaretta as a special batting instructor to the team. The two had been team mates in the forties & developed a friendship.
Cavaretta was to work with hitters during Spring Training only, and when the season started he was to instruct in the minor league levels. In his first season he also helped a young John Milner make the adjustment from outfielder to first baseman.
Eventually he was helping the hitters at Shea Stadium, on home games only, and just during batting practice. He didn’t travel on the road with the ball club.
Cavaretta was a great help to many hitters on both levels, as the 1973 Mets went all the way to the World Series. He remained with the team until the late seventies and then moved on to scouting.
Cavaretta had the honor of being the oldest former major leaguer still living before his passing at 94 years old.