Feb 21, 2013

Short Time Italian / American Mets Reserve Catcher: Phil Lombardi (1989)

Phillip Arden Lombardi was born on February 20, 1963 at Abilene, Texas. The six foot two catcher was drafted right out of high school in the third round of the 1981 draft by the A.L. New York club. He hit over .290 at AAA Columbus in 1986 earning him a big league call up. 

He made his debut in the Bronx in 1986, replacing Ron Hassey behind the plate and immediately made a throwing error as Cleveland's Bret Butler was trying to steal a base. In just twenty games he hit .278 with 2 HRs & 6 RBIs. After five brief games at the big league level in 1987 he was traded across town to the New York Mets, along with Steve Frey & Darren Reed for short stop Rafael Santana.

Lombardi hit a team leading .308 at AAA Tidewater in 1988 with 9 HRs & 44 RBIs in 85 games. Although he fell off to .261 the next year he led the team hitting 14 HRs & was second to Tom O'Malley driving in 73 runs. Lombardi was called up in June 1989 when the Mets needed help behind the plate. He was one of four catchers to play on the ‘89 Mets team, along with Gary Carter, Barry Lyons, & Mackey Sasser. 

 Lombardi debuted on a road trip at Montreal that June, as a defensive replacement for Mackey Sasser in the 12 inning at Stade Olympique. In his first start the next day he caught Bobby Ojeda, & got three hits including his only Mets HR, off Mark Langston although the Mets lost the game 4-3. It would be his best day, as his average fell off to just .211 by the end of July & he was sent back down to AAA Tidewater.

 He came back for a September cup of coffee finishing the season hitting .229 with one HR one double & three RBIs in 18 games. He struggled throwing out base runners as well, nailing just one out of 18 base stealers (6%). 

Lombardi underwent three knee operations & in the end injuries would finish his career at an early age; 26. He was placed on waivers & retired after the 1988 season. In his three year career he hit .239 with three HRs, one double, 19 RBIs & a .314 on base % in 43 games.

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