Salvatore Philip Butera was born September 25, 1952 in Richmond Hill, Queens. His parents had emigrated from Italy, settling in Brooklyn, New York at first, then moving over to Queens.
After Sal was born, the family moved to Long Island where Sal grew up playing ball in high school at Bohemia, NY. He attended Suffolk County Community College, getting signed by the Minnesota Twins in 1972.
The six foot right hand hitting catcher, would spend eight years in the Twins minors leagues. He didn’t hit for power & hit a best .278 in the minor leagues in 1977. In 1980 he made the Twins club out of Spring Training, starting out as the back up to Butch Wynegar.
In 1981 Butera saw most of the action behind the plate, appearing in 62 games for the Twin; hitting .240 with no HRs & 18 RBIs.
He had a strong arm and nailed 54% of base runners attempting to steal, while posting a .970 fielding percentage. But lack of power & hitting made him Tim Launders back up the following season.
He was sent to the Detroit Tigers (1983) appearing in four games & then the Montreal Expos(1984-1985). In 1985 he became former Met catcher; Mike Fitzgerald’s back up in Montreal, seeing action in 67 games.
That season he hit his first career HR, it came at Wrigley Field off Cub pitcher Ray Fontenot. Overall he hit just .200 & struggled behind the plate throwing out just 17% of would be base stealers. That December he was Traded along with Bill Gullickson to the Cincinnati Reds for John Stuper, Jay Tibbs, Dann Bilardello & Andy McGaffigan.
He remained with the Reds until midway through 1987 when he was dealt back to Minnesota, just in time to win a World Series there. He backed up Tim Launder once again, who was struggling himself at the plate, batting .191 on the season. Butera hit .171 in 51 games with the Twins, improving his defense to throwing out almost 30% of base stealers.
Post Season: He got to catch a game in the ALCS, against the Detroit Tigers, playing in Game #3 & getting two hits.
In the World Series win over the St, Louis Cardinals, he went 0-1 as a pinch hitter.
He attended a Twins Championship Team Anniversary years later; joining fellow Long Islander; Frank Violia & Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven among others.
Sal finished his nine year career in Toronto with the Blue Jays in 1988. Overall he played in 359 games, batting .227 with 182 hits, 8 HRs 24 doubles & 76 RBIs.
Retirement: In the early nineties he managed in the Astros organization, then returned to the Blue Jays as a bullpen coach in 1998. Since 2008 he has been a special assistant to the Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulous.
Sal Butera's son:
Andrew Edward Butera, known as Drew, was born on August 9, 1983 in Evansville, Illinois. He was also a catcher getting drafted by the New York Mets in the third round of the 2005 draft.
He spent the 2005 season with the Brooklyn Cyclones batting .217, getting promoted to AA Binghamton the next season.
In 2007 he was traded along with minor leaguer Dustin Martin to the his Dad's old Twins team, for Luis Castillo. He didn’t hit much for average or power, but defensively; he threw out 45% of would be base stealers in his minor league career.
In 2010 he was promoted to the Twins big league club as Joey Mauer's backup catcher. At the big league level he still threw out over 40% of base stealers, but hit under .200.
By 2011 he was known for keeping the Twins pitching staff calm behind the plate, while calling a good game. He became Carl Pavano's private catcher & on May 3rd caught Francisco Liriano's no hitter.
He hit just .167 in 93 games , throwing out 31% of base runners trying to steal on him. In 2012 he played in 42 games throughout the season, but still could not hit over the .200 mark, finishing up at .198.
In 2013 he played for the Italian National Team, as their catcher in the World Baseball Classic. He spent most of his season at AAA Rochester, getting to the Twins for two brief games in July. Later that month he was traded to the L.A. Dodgers for a player to be named later. Since then he had mostly played at AAA Albuquerque for their Isotopes team.
In 2014 he was the Dodgers reserve catcher behind main back stop; AJ Ellis. Through August he was batting .196 with 3 HRs & 13 RBIs.
In a four year career he hit .182 with 5 HRs 21 doubles & 41 RBIs in 186 games. In 183 games at catcher he tossed out 33% of would be base stealers.
Trivia: The Butera’s are the first father son combo to play for the Minnesota franchise.