John Boccabella

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John Dominic Boccabella

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Biographical Information[edit]

John Boccabella played twelve years in the major leagues, getting over 210 at-bats only once, close to the end of his career when he had over 400 at-bats as the starting catcher for the Montreal Expos in 1973.

Growing up in San Anselmo, CA, north of San Francisco, CA, he was the California high school baseball player of the year in 1959, then was a teammate of Ernie Fazio, Bob Garibaldi and Tim Cullen at Santa Clara University as the team reached the 1962 College World Series. He was signed as a free agent by the Chicago Cubs in 1963 and by early September of the same year he made his major league debut after a huge first pro year with the Pocatello Chiefs of the Pioneer League, where he hit .365 with 18 doubles, 10 triples and 30 homers in 84 games. he hit his first big league homer off Ernie Broglio of the St. Louis Cardinals on September 12th. In 1964, he hit 23 homers and drove in 78 runs for the AAA Salt Lake City Bees, but his batting average fell to .226.

Touted as a potential successor to Ernie Banks, he was a backup OF/1B and sometimes catcher for the Cubs in the late 1960s, before being selected in the expansion draft by the Montreal Expos on October 14, 1968. Expos manager Gene Mauch eventually turned him into a full-time catcher; Boccabella played in a career-high 118 games in 1973. Finishing up with the San Francisco Giants in 1974, he hit just .219 for his career.

Claude Mouton, the public address announcer at Montreal's Jarry Park loved to play with Boccabella's name. He would intone in his French accent "Jean BOCK-(pause)-a-BELLLLLL-a" much to the delight of the Expos faithful.

Boccabella became, on July 6, 1973, the second of only three catchers ever to homer twice in one inning (through June 2007), going deep against the Houston Astros' Jim Ray and Jim Crawford, the latter a grand slam, in the 6th inning at Jarry Park. The others were Andy Seminick in 1949 and Bengie Molina in 2007.

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