James Vincent Pagliaroni was born December 8th, 1937 in Dearborn, Michigan. The big six foot four Italian American went to High School in Long Beach, California getting signed as a bonus baby by the Boston Red Sox in 1955.
He made his one game token appearances that year as the rules for bonus babies stated. He then went to the minors for five seasons returning to the bigs by 1960. By 1961 he was the Red Sox main catcher & the third youngest starting catcher in AL history. He hit well for the sixth place Red Sox, hitting 16 HRs (second on the club to Gary Geiger 18) with 58 RBIs batting .242.
In 1962 he was behind the plate calling signals the night future Mets pitching coach Bill Monboquette, threw a no hitter against the Chicago White Sox.
It was the first career no hitter he caught behind the plate. Pagliaroni was traded to Pittsburgh by 1963 & would be the Pirates main catcher through 1966. In his first year as a Pirate, he threw out 41% of would be base stealers making six assists.
In 1964 he hit a career best .295 with 10 HRs 12 doubles 36 RBIs & a .383 on base %. That year the Pirates finished sixth on a team that included rookie Willie Stargell, batting champ Roberto Clemente & future 1969 Mets star; Donn Clendenon. Pags' on base % was second on the club, just five points lower than Roberto Clementes's.
In 1965 he caught 131 games behind the plate (second in the NL) making 669 put outs (5th in the NL) posting the league's second best fielding % for a catcher (.994%). That year he hit a career high 17 HRs which is a longtime record for HRs by a Pirates catcher. He also drove in 65 runs that year as well.
In 1966 he led all NL catchers in fielding (.997 %) making just two errors in 118 games caught. When Jerry May took over catching duties in 1967 Pags was traded to the Oakland A's.
There he was back up to Dave Duncan, appearing in 63 games behind the plate. On May8th 1968, he had the honor of catching Catfish Hunter's perfect game against the Minnesota Twins. He went 0-4 at the plate that day, but what a thrill to catch his second no hitter.
After the no hitter, the A's were going to be on National TV & their owner Charlie Finley wanted to present Hunter with a $5000 check before the game. Finley was never one to miss an opporunity. The low key Hunter insisted Pagliaroni be on TV as well since he was the catcher of the perfect game. Finley was caught off guard & presented Pags with a $2500 check. Pagliaroni later said, Finley deducted the money from his paycheck.
He stayed with the A's until May 1969 when his contract was purchased by the Seattle Pilots. The Pilots were only in the league one season & in 40 games Pagliaroni batted .264 with 5 HRs 14 RBIs.
In his eleven season career, he batted .252 with 622 hits 90 HRs 98 doubles 7 triples 326 RBIs with a .344 on base %. Defensively he caught 767 games with a .991 fielding %, throwing out 33 % of would be base stealers. He also helped turn 50 double plays.
Passing: Pagliaroni passed away in 2012 from cancer at age 72, in Grass Valley, California.