Dec 27, 2014

Former Italian / American Mets Catcher: Harry Chiti (1962)

Harry Chiti was born on November 16, 1932 in Kincaid, Illinois. The six foot two catcher was signed by the Chicago Cubs in 1950 & made his debut that September for three games at age 17.

Chiti was a fine defensive catcher whose specialty was catching the knuckle ball. After playing briefly for three seasons as a Cubs backup catcher, he went off to the Korean War. Chiti served two years military service returning back to the Cubs in 1955.

He became their main catcher, defensively leading the league in assists (17) passed balls & stolen bases allowed (48). At the plate he had a career high 11 HRs with 41 RBIs posting a .231 batting average in 113 games played. The following year he lost his job to future Met, Hobie Landrith & was traded to the AL New York club for Charlie Silvera.

Chiti was drafted away by the Kansas City A's in 1958 & became their main catcher batting .268 with 9 HRs & 44 RBIs. He led the league in passed balls (18) once again & was back in the backup role to Frank House the next two years.

In 1959 he batted.272 while appearing in just 55 games, then in 1960 he led the league in stolen bases allowed (40) finishing up the year with the Detroit Tigers who purchased his contract. In the winter he was traded to the Cleveland Indians but in late April of 1962, they sold his contract to the expansion New York Mets.

Two days later on April 28th he was inserted in the lineup as a late inning replacement and struck out in his only at bat. In May he would hit safely in seven of eight games but his success was short lived. Chiti only played in 15 games as a Met, batting .195 (8-43) playing his last MLB game on June 10th 1962.

That month the Mets sold him back to Cleveland, and through the years a legend grew. He was known as the only player to be named later, who was traded for himself.

Chiti played two more seasons in the minor leagues before retiring from baseball at age 30. He finished his ten year career batting .238 with 356 hits 41 HRs 49 doubles 9 triples & 179 RBIs in 502 games played. Behind the plate he threw out 38% of would be base stealers while allowing 64 passe d balls with 77 wild pitches coming his way, posting a .983 fielding %.

Retirement: After baseball he worked for Columbia Pictures placing films in movie theaters. He then served as a bailiff in a Shelby County, Tennessee Courthouse. He retired from working in Winter Haven Florida, passing in 2002.

His son Dom Chiti was a minor league pitching prospect who had his career ruined by arm troubles. Dom Chiti then was a longtime scout & pitching coach mainly in the Texas Rangers organization.

He was with the Rangers & manager Ron Washington through 2006 as bull pen coach. More recently he is with the Atlanta Braves as special assistant to the GM.

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