Oct 17, 2014

Former Italian / American Catcher: Doug Mirabelli (1996-2007)

Douglas Anthony Mirabelli was born on October 18, 1970 in Kingman, Arizona. His family moved to Las Vegas, where Mirabelli grew up & was a star catcher there in high school. He was originally drafted by the Detroit Tigers, but chose not to sign.

Instead he attended Wichita State University, winning the 1989 College World Series on a team which included three other future major leaguers; Eric Wedge, Mike Lansing & Pat Meares. 
 Mirabelli was then drafted in 1992 by the San Francisco Giants in the fifth round. In 1996 at AA ball he hit.295 with 21 HRs &70 RBIs, getting to AAA before a promotion to the Giants big league club for a September cup of coffee. After a handful of appearances in the next two years he was a third string catcher, splitting time with veterans Brent Mayne and Scott Servais in 1999. 

In 2000 he had career highs in games played (82) at bats (230) & hits (53) but his average was just .230. He had his contract purchased by the Texas Rangers, where he began 2001 as Ivan Rodriguez’s back up. He only hit .102 & was traded to the Boston Red Sox that July when catcher Jason Varitek went down for the season. 
 Mirabelli would share time with Scott Hattenberg, paying in 54 games batting .270. He finished the year with a career high 11 HRs & 29 RBIs. In 2002 he became the personal catcher of knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.

That year Wakefield went 8-2 with Mirabelli as his backstop & the two became an item for the next three years. Mirabelli would also be part of two Red Sox World Championship teams (2004 & 2007) & play in four different post seasons in Boston batting .238 in nine games. 
 In the middle of that period he spent a brief part of the 2006 season in San Diego. It looked like he would have a chance to be a starter there until they signed veteran Mike Piazza. Unhappy with his playing time he asked to go back to Boston who wanted him back as well , because no one could handle Wakefield’s knuckler. 
 He received a police escort on his return to Boston, so he could catch Wakefield at Fenway Park that night in the first game of the season against the rival A.L. New York team. His plane landed at 6:48 PM & he made it behind the plate by the 7:13 PM for the first pitch.

Mirabelli made history when he became the only player in MLB history to hit six or more HRs in six consecutive seasons with fewer than 200 at-bats. As a result of catching Wakefield’s knuckler, he led the league in passed balls twice. In five different post season years Mirabelli played in 11 post season games batting .238 (5-21). 

He finished his 12 season career in 2007, playing in 566 games, with 337 hits, 58 HRs, 78 doubles & 206 RBIs with a .231 batting average. He had 78 career passed ball with a .992 fielding percentage, throwing out 28% of would be base stealers. 
  Drama: In 2007 while in playing in Baltimore, announcer Gary Thorne told the TV audience that Mirabelli had told him the famous Curt Schilling bloody sock from the 2004 World Series, wasn’t actually his blood but paint. He said it was all a publicity stunt.  After the whole thing blew up on a national level, Mirabelli held a press conference to confirm it was actual blood & that there had been a misunderstanding in the conversation with Thorne. The bloody sock is now displayed in the Baseball Hall of Fame. 

Retirement: Mirabelli works as a realtor for Coldwell Banker Schmidt Realtors in Traverse City & is a high school baseball coach there as well. In 2012 he & his wife won a $1.2 million scam suit against a Merrill Lynch financial agent.

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