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Ted Simmons

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Ted Lyle Simmons

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"All you ever hear is Bench and Munson and Fisk. (Simmons) hits better than any of them, and he calls a great game." - Chuck Tanner on opposing catcher Ted Simmons

Ted Simmons was a star for 21 seasons in the majors, and was an 8-time All-Star.

As a catcher, he had unusually high batting averages, hitting in the top ten in the league six times. In 1975 he was second in the league. He broke in just after the second dead-ball era when averages were low, so his averages mean more than they would today. For instance, in 1972, he hit .303 when the league as a whole hit only .248.

Simmons' lifetime batting average of .285 is tied with Hall of Famer Yogi Berra, and better than Hall of Famers Johnny Bench (.267) and Carlton Fisk (.269). In fact, there is no Hall of Fame catcher who has played in major league baseball since 1950 who has a batting average as high as the .285 that Berra and Simmons share. Some of the players prior to 1950 had gaudy batting averages during the lively ball era. For example, Bill Dickey, famed for his high batting average, was only in the top ten in the league 3 times (compared to 6 for Simmons), and his highest finish was 3rd (compared to 2nd for Simmons). And Mickey Cochrane has the highest batting average of any Hall of Fame catcher (.320), but was only in the top 10 five times and never finished as high as Simmons' second place finish.

Simmons has 2,472 lifetime hits, more than any catcher in the Hall of Fame. The closest is Carlton Fisk with 2,356. Yogi Berra had 2,150.

Simmons' power was excellent for a catcher. He hit 483 doubles lifetime, which is # 58 on the all-time list. There is no Hall of Fame catcher who had as many doubles as Simmons. Carlton Fisk, in a longer career had 421.

Simmons had 1389 RBI in his career. That total is higher than every catcher in the Hall of Fame, except for Yogi Berra, who had 1430. Yogi, like Simmons, also played several hundred games at positions other than catcher.

Simmons hit 248 home runs in his career. Only four of the fourteen Hall of Fame catchers have hit more. Gary Carter, who had 324 home runs, had a slugging percertage of .439, only two points higher than Simmons, because Simmons had so many more singles and doubles than Carter.

Simmons won no MVP awards, but did finish as high as 6th in the MVP voting in 1975, a year in which his team barely finished over .500. Simmons' best years were unfortunately spent with a St. Louis Cardinals team that could not win the division while he was there. The team did win the pennant when he was an 18-year-old rookie, but he appeared in only 2 games (hitting .333) and did not appear in post-season play.

Ted Simmons had an extremely long career at catcher, playing in 1,771 games at that position and he also added several hundred games at DH, first base, third base, and outfield. Bob Boone and Carlton Fisk, his contemporaries, set records at the position with over 2,200 games. He was considered adequate defensively, but won no Gold Gloves. During most of Simmons' career as a catcher, Johnny Bench won the Gold Glove for National League catcher every year, so winning the Gold Glove at the time was unusually tough.

He did finally get into the 1982 World Series in his days with the Milwaukee Brewers, on the famous "Brew Crew". In the 1982 regular season, Simmons usually batted fifth during the first half of the season and he was usually the clean-up hitter during the second half.

Simmons almost Merkled away the 1982 AL East title on a rainy night in Baltimore. In the 3rd inning of a Brewer-Oriole game on June 16, 1982, with runners on first and second with 1 out, Pete Vuckovich struck out John Lowenstein. Simmons received the pitch and, thinking that it was the 3rd out, rolled the ball back to the mound and began to walk off the field. The Oriole runners, Dan Ford and Eddie Murray, each advanced. Joe Nolan then singled both runners home before making the true 3rd out trying to stretch the hit to a double. When the Oriole 9th ended, those were the only two runs the Orioles had, and the score stood tied at 2 (Terry Crowley being unable "to break one open in the 9th"). The game then went into its second delay and was finally called after midnight. The game was replayed as part of a double-header on the last Friday of the season. The Brewers held a 3 game lead over Baltimore with 4 to play that weekend and proceded to blow that lead by losing both ends of the double-header as well as the Saturday game. Finally on Sunday, the Brewers saved Simmons from an ill-fate by winning in the only final day match-up of future Hall of Fame pitchers to decide a pennant (Sutton v. Palmer).

Simmons is second in post-19th Century catchers in most passed balls in a career with 182. He trails Lance Parrish. His 34% success-ratio in throwing out base stealers ranks low among his peers.

After his playing career ended, he was the director of player development for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1989 to 1991 and General Manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1992 to 1993. Simmons left the job due to health problems. While working as a scout for the Cleveland Indians he was a finalist for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays first managerial opening, but lost out to Larry Rothschild. He resurfaced with the San Diego Padres front office from 2000 to 2003 in the player development/minor leagues/scouting department. On October 30, 2007, he was named bench coach of the Milwaukee Brewers for the 2008 season. He held the same position for the San Diego Padres in 2009 and 2010. In 2011-2013, Simmons was a Senior Advisor to the General Manager for the Seattle Mariners.

There is already a movement to get the Veterans Committee to let him into the Hall of Fame. See Why Ted Simmons Belongs in Cooperstown.


Preceded by
Larry Doughty
Pittsburgh Pirates General Manager
1992-1993
Succeeded by
Cam Bonifay

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Rothschild Named Devil Rays Manager

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