Josh Thole: The First Mets Catcher to Catch a No Hitter (2009 - 2012)

Joshua Michael Thole was born on October 28th 1986, the day after the Mets won the '86 World Series.

Thole was born & raised Breese, Illinois. The six foot one, left hand hitting catcher was drafted out of high school in the 13th round of the 2005 draft by the New York Mets.

Thole never showed any power at the plate but showed good defensive skills & was a good singles hitter. He hits much better against right handed pitching. He spent two seasons in the Rookie League, then two seasons at A ball.

He hit .300 with a minor league career high of five HRs at A ball St. Lucie in 2008 followed by a .328 year at AA Binghamton. 

That year he was praised by Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen on how good his defensive skills were behind the plate, as early as Spring Training. With the Mets going nowhere in the pennant race he was brought up to the big-league club on August 31st.

Mets Career: Thole was being primed as the Mets catcher of the future, receiving extra tutoring by veteran Brian Schneider who knew his days were going to be over at the end of the season.

In his first career at bat, Thole singled against the Rockies, Jason Marquis in Colorado & then stole second base. He drove in a run in each of his last three games on the year, finishing up with a .321 average (17-53).

2010: Thole began the year at AAA Buffalo after 48 games he was batting .267 with 2 HRs 19 doubles & 19 RBIs. 

The Mets began the season with Rod Barajas & Henry Blanco as the team's catchers. Thole was brought up in late June. He closed out the month with back-to-back games where he pinch hit & drove in runs. By July he was already seeing steadier playing time.

On July 20th, he hit his first career HR, it came in Arizona off Barry Enright. 

He went 11-38 in July & by the end of the month he was batting .318. By late August he was the team's main catcher, taking over for Barajas. Although Barajas had 12 HRs, he was batting just .225 & had his contact purchased by the Dodgers.

Thole wasn't hitting with power, but he did put together an eight-game hit streak & six multi-hit games. He was doing a fine job defensively as well. was remaining at the .300 mark.

Walk Off HR: On October 1st, the Mets Pat Misch & Hisanori Takahashi kept the Nationals to a 1-1 tie in ten innings. In the bottom of the 10th, Thole hit a walk off HR off Tyler Clippard leading the Mets to a 2-1 Met win over Washington.

On the year he ended up batting .277 with 3 HRs 7 doubles & 17 RBIs in 73 games played. Behind the plate he threw out 11 of 25 base runners trying to steal for a 44%.

2011:  Thole saw his first full season at catcher, making his fist Opening Day roster. In the second game of the year he had the first of ten games where he would have three hits or more in a game. He drove in his first run of the year as well in the Mets 6-4 win in Florida.

On April 17th, He was batting 2nd & singled off Tommy Hanson at Turner Field putting the Mets up 1-0. He later singled in the 5th inning as well, driving in what turned out to be the games winning run in the 3-2 win over the Braves.

On April 26th, he drove in three Mets runs in a 6-4 loss at Washington D.C. Two days later he would draw three walks in a loss to the Phillies.

Starting on May 25th, Josh drove in runs in four straight games. On May 29th he had an RBI single & two run double in a 9-5 win against the Phillies at Citi Field, then had two more RBIs the next day in a 7-3 win over the Pirates.

On June 28th he hit his first HR of the year in a 14-3 win at Detroit. On July 20th he singled off the Cardinals Jason Motte tying up the game in the 8th inning, setting the stage for an Angel Pagan walk off HR. 

In San Diego on August 15th, Thole hit his third HR of the year, a two-run shot & then drove in
another run in the 5th inning, leading the Mets to a 5-4 win over the Padres. It was his third three RBI game of the year.

In September he had another three RBI Day, this time gathering up three hits as well in a 12-2 over the Braves in Atlanta. 

On the year he hit .268 with 17 doubles 3 HRs 40 RBIs & a .345 on base % in 114 games. Behind the plate in 102 games, he tossed out 21% of base runners trying to steal, posting a .997 fielding % (3rd best in the NL). He was charged with 16 passed balls (most in the league) mostly because of pitcher R.A. Dickey's knuckle ball. 

2012: Thole was the Opening Day catcher in 2012 & had a pair of hits in Johan Santana's 1-0 win over the Braves at Citi Field. On April 24th, his 7th inning RBI single tied up a game against the Marlins in which the Mets went on to a 2-1 win.

On April 29th he hit his only HR of the year, it came off the 
Rockies 49-year-old Jamie Moyer in Colorado in a 6-5 Mets win. In April he had a ten-game hit streak, finishing the first month hitting well enough be batting .317.

On May 7th he suffered a concussion after a home plate collision with the Phillies (former Met) Ty Wigginton. As a result, Thole missed almost a whole month of action returning on June 1st.

When he got back in the line up the Mets were surprising everyone playing well enough to be in second place, only a few games behind the Washington Nationals.

Johan Santana's No Hitter: On June 1st in his first game back, Thole became the first catcher in Mets history to be behind the plate calling the signals for a no hitter. Although many Mets pitchers have come close, it was on this night; Johan Santana threw the first no hit game in franchise history beating the St. Louis Cardinals in an 8-0 win.

Thole went 0-4 at the plate that night.

Another thrill for Thole that season, was being behind the plate & catching R.A. Dickey, who became the Mets first twenty game winner since Frank Viola did it in 1990.

After the All Star break the Mets long losing streak pretty much ruined the season. Thole struggled as well, possibly never recovering fully from the concussion, he batted .234 with one HR 15 doubles & 21 RBIs, posting a .296 on base % in 104 games.

Defensively he threw out 24% of would-be base stealers, allowed 18 passed balls, again mostly due to Dickey's knuckleball & posted a .992 fielding %.

Traded: On December 17, 2012, he was involved in a big trade that sent him, R.A. Dickey & Mike
Nickeas to the Toronto Blue Jays for highly touted catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud.

Post Mets career: Thole began the 2013 season at AAA Buffalo, which was now an affiliate of the Blue Jays batting .322 in 41 games. He joined the Jays in June, playing behind main catcher; JP Arencibia who hit 21 HRs that year. Thole only hit .150 with one HR, which came in New York against the A.L. club that August. 

In 2014 he was the Jays backup catcher behind veteran Dioner Navarro. But by now he was R.A. Dickeys personal catcher. The 2014 Jays put in a fine season, contending for a playoff spot until September winning 83 games (83-79).

In 57 games Thole hit .248 with seven RBIs. His nine passed balls behind the plate put him at 6th most in the league in that category, mostly due to R.A. Dickey's knuckleball which followed him to Toronto. 

The following season he played in just 18 games with the Blue Jays. For the 2016 AL Wild Card Champion Blue Jays; Thole won the second-string spot, behind Russell Martin, who now became Dickey's main catcher this season. 

In 50 regular season games he hit just .169 but posted solid defense with a .997 fielding %. Dickey's knuckleball gave him 17 passed balls on the season, second most in the AL. After electing free agency at the end of the year he was signed by the Diamondbacks. But a torn hamstring hat required surgery kept him out of action all of 2017. He was released the following season.

He would spend the next two seasons in the minors & in the Independant League with New Britan, ending his career by 2020.

Retirement: After his playing days he runs the Thole Collective, a clinic & leadership program for baseball players in upstate New York.

Career Stats: In his eight-year career in 478 games, he is batting .242 with 9 HRs 53 doubles 111 RBIs & a .306 on base %.

In 439 games at catcher, he threw out 24% of would-be base stealers, posting a .994 fielding%.

In 2017 he signed on with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He suffered a torn hamstring in a spring training game, required surgery & was finished for the year. In 2018 he was released.

Family: Thole & his wife Kathryn have three children. The family also raised a Maltese poodle who was deaf. Josh taught the dog to understand sign language with amazing results.


Popular posts from this blog

Remembering Bobby Ojeda's Tragic Boating Accident (1993)

Fictional Mets Infielder Chico Escuela ( of SNL) Visits Mets Spring Training (1979)

Remembering Vixen Founder / Guitarist; Jan Kuehnemund (1961-2013)

Remembering Mets History (1979) SNL's Chico Escuela Visits Mets Spring Training & Attempts a Career Comeback

Remembering Mets History: (1977) The Felix Millan / Ed Ott Brawl In Pittsburgh