May 8, 2016

1954 World Champion New York Giants Catcher: Ray Katt (1952-1957)

Raymond Frederick Katt was born on May 9, 1927 in New Braunfels, Texas. The big six foot two catcher attended Texas A & M getting signed by the New York Giants in 1947.


He batted over .300 three straight seasons when he reached AAA Minneapolis making brief appearances for the Giants in 1952 & 1953. During those years, future Mets manager Wes Westrum was the Giants main catcher.


By 1954 backup catchers Ray Noble, Sam Calderone & Sal Yvars were all gone, opening the spot for Katt in the second string job. Katt appeared in 86 games of the 1954 Giants Championship season & had a better year at the plate than main catcher Westrum did. Katt batted .255 with 9 HRs 7 doubles 33 RBIs & a .291 on base %.


On May 5th, Katt drove in five runs with three hits in the Giants 21-4 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates at the Polo Grounds. Three days later Katt drove in four more runs, in another Giants romp, a 17-6 win over the Brooklyn Dodgers. From July 28th through August 6th he hit three HRs driving in six runs on the week. Behind the plate he posted a .973 fielding percentage throwing out 48% of would be base stealers.



He would lead the league in passed balls (12) and was second in errors committed (8). On September 10th, 1954, Katt set a record with four passed balls in the same inning. Rookie knuckleballer (future Hall of Famer) Hoyt Wilhelm got a bit wild with two outs & a runner on first. He walked the next two batters & Katt is credited with two passed balls.


Next up, future Met Roy McMillian comes to bat & two more passed balls get by Katt as two runs score. The runner on third, Bobby Adams expects another knuckle ball in the dirt to get by Katt and takes off for home, but Katt scooped it up & tagged out Adams for the third out.


As the World Series approached Westrum took over as the Giants main catcher and Katt saw no Series action in the four game Giants sweep over the Cleveland Indians.

In 1955 Katt did take over as the Giants main catcher but only hit .215 with 7 HRs & 28 RBIs in 124 games. He once again led all catchers in passed balls (17) & made seven errors which were third most in the league. Those numbers put him back as the reserve catcher in 1956 behind Westrum.

That June he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals, in a huge deal that involved Alvin Dark, Don Liddle & Whitey Lockman all going to St. Louis. The Giants received catcher Bill Sarni Jackie Brandt, Dick Littlefield, and Red Schoendienst in return.


Katt would finish the year with career highs in HRs (13) doubles (8) & RBIs (34). That December he was sent to the Chicago Cubs who traded him back to the Giants as the 1957 season began.


He spent the year as a back up to Valmy Thomas, batting .230 throwing out 13 of 22 would be base stealers (59%) behind the plate. He got sent back to St. Louis for his last two seasons before retiring.

In an eight year career he finished with a .232 batting average, 248 hits 32 HRs 29 doubles four triples & 120 RBIs. Defensively he posted a .986 fielding % throwing out 55% of would be base stealers (75 out of 132 runners) .

Retirement: After his playing days he was a coach for the St. Louis Cardinals (1959-1960) & Cleveland Indians (1962).

He went back to Texas taking a job as a successful head coach for Texas Lutheran College, remaining there for a long 22 years. He posted a 502-362 record there from 1971-1993.


Passing: In 1999 Katt passed away in Texas from lymphoma at age 72.

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