Bradley Lee Gulden
- Bats Left, Throws Right
- Height 5' 11", Weight 180 lb.
- High School Chaska High School
- Debut September 22, 1978
- Final Game September 28, 1986
- Born June 10, 1956 in New Ulm, MN USA
In his first year of pro ball in 1975, playing for the Bellingham Dodgers, Gulden struggled with a line of .163/.298/.212. He was however third on the team with 35 walks in 66 games, a ratio that would be above average throughout his career.
He played his second season with the Danville Dodgers in the Midwest League and he improved his offensive stats tremendously. In 103 games, his line was .284/.366/.383, all figures that were above average.
Gulden's numbers were even better in 1977 with the Lodi Dodgers in the California League with a line of .300/.378/.470 in 118 games with 15 home runs. All these numbers were around the team average but nevertheless, that cemented his reputation as an offensive catcher. In fact, the Dodgers added him to their Major League roster after the season.
He skipped AA and was the Albuquerque Dukes' main catcher in 1978. His line was .294/.378/.415 in 125 games. He was called up by the Dodgers in September and made three appearances, going 0 for 4. Just before spring training in 1979, he was traded to the New York Yankees for Gary Thomasson. He played with the Columbus Clippers in the International League. When Thurman Munson died in a plane crash in early August, leaving the Yankees with a huge hole at the position, Gulden was called up. At the time, his line was .248/.359/.370 in 80 games. He remained with the Yankees the rest of the season, making 34 starts. His line was .163/.238/.207.
The 1980 season was a setback for Gulden. First he was among the last cuts in Spring training when the Yankees opted for newly-acquired veteran Johnny Oates as the main back-up to Rick Cerone, who had been acquired in a big off-season trade. Gulden was really upset and threatened to not report to Columbus. He was unproductive with Columbus, failing to hit .200 in 14 games, despite getting 10 RBIs and 2 home runs. In May, he was sent to the Nashville Sounds in the Southern League, where he played most of the season. His line was .237/.344/.383 in 85 games. He played 2 games with the Yankees at the tail end of the season in October. In November, he was traded to the Seattle Mariners for Larry Milbourne and a player to be named later.
Gulden made the big league team in 1981 but had only 3 starts in April when he was sent to the Spokane Indians in the Pacific Coast League. He played only 15 games there before he was transferred back to the New York Yankees as the player to be named later in the November trade that had sent him to Seattle, meaning he was basically traded for himself. He played the rest of the season with Columbus and had the best year of his pro career, hitting a career-high 17 home runs with a line of .295/.362/.599 in 73 games.
At the end of training camp in 1982, he was traded to the Montreal Expos for another catcher, Bobby Ramos. It was one of those pre-arranged deals where both teams knew that the players involved would be back in their old organization in the near future. The Expos had no options left for Ramos but they already had Gary Carter and Tim Blackwell to catch with the big league team. Instead of taking the risk of being picked up by another team, Ramos was in effect buried that year in the Yankees system for a year. As for Gulden, he had to settle for a job as second-string catcher with the Wichita Aeros, in the American Association, with Tom Wieghaus as the number one catcher. Gulden was the better offensive player of the two with a line of .288/.350/.481 in 64 games. He was called up to Montreal in May and played in only 5 games from then until July, making 1 start. Shortly after the season, his contract was sold back to the Yankees while the Expos re-acquired Ramos in a separate deal.
Gulden was back with Columbus for the whole 1983 season. He had a very strong offensive season with a line of .316/.394/.480 in 93 games. He became a free agent after the season and was signed by the Cincinnati Reds in November. 1984 was the only full season in the majors for Gulden. It took a while for him to get goping, as he was batting below .200 as late as mid-August. Hitting lefthanded, he was the team's starting catcher against righties. He made 80 starts and his line was .226/.307/.308.
He didn't play at all in the majors in 1985. He began with the Denver Zephyrs in the American Association. In mid-June, his contract was sold to the Houston Astros and he finished the season with the Tucson Toros in the PCL. He played a total of 92 games with an OPS of .712. He became a free agent after that season and signed in December with the San Francisco Giants. The Giants put him on their opening day roster in 1986 and he was expected to add some depth behind the plate and to serve as a pinch-hitting specialist. In late May, he was hitting only .105, however, and he was demoted to the Phoenix Firebirds in the PCL. In June, he suffered a separated shoulder and miss almost two months. He was back with the Giants in September and went 0 for 3 with a walk in 4 games. He was released after the season, his last in pro baseball.
Brad Gulden is a member of Chaska High School Hall of Fame.