John Hardin Stearns
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 0", Weight 185 lb.
- School University of Colorado
- High School Thomas Jefferson High School
- Debut September 22, 1974
- Final Game September 30, 1984
- Born August 21, 1951 in Denver, CO USA
Drafted in the 13th round of the 1969 amateur draft by the Oakland A's, John Stearns did not sign and proceeded to the University of Colorado. In 1972, John hit .352, second in the Basin League in Summer Collegiate Baseball. After starring in baseball and football there, Stearns was drafted by the NFL's Buffalo Bills as a defensive back and was the second overall pick of the 1973 amateur draft, taken by the Philadelphia Phillies. Immediately sent to AA, Stearns had seven passed balls in 31 games behind the plate and hit .241/~.406/.386, showing excellent walk ability (46 bases on balls in 207 plate appearances). He also played first base, third base and the outfield. In 1974, John batted .343/~.447/.500 for the Rocky Mount Phillies and .266/~.336/.345 for the Toledo Mud Hens. Stearns joined Gary Carter as one of the International League All-Star catchers after the year, then got promoted to the Phillies, where he went 1 for 2. That off-season, he was dealt to the New York Mets as part of a 6-player deal in which Stearns and Tug McGraw were the primary objects as Bob Boone held down the Philadelphia catching job.
In 1975, Stearns struggled (.189/.268/.284) as the backup to Jerry Grote. After a 1-for-11 start in 1976, he was demoted to the Tidewater Tides and tore up the IL. He hit .310/~.438/.464, was 10th in the league in average, third in OBP and drew 71 walks. A C-3B, he again made the IL All-Star team at catcher. Returning to the Mets as a September call-up, he became the everyday catcher for the next couple of weeks and finished the year at a respectable .262/.364/.379 (117 OPS+).
Replacing Grote as the starter, he did a fine job for the 1977 Mets, making the All-Star team and batting .251/.370/.397 with 77 walks and a 111 OPS+. In 1978, Stearns hit .264/.364/.413 with 15 home runs, 73 RBI and a career-high 121 OPS+ and stole 25 bases, a modern National League record for catchers (broken two decades later by Jason Kendall), but was also caught 13 times. Making the All-Star team again the next year, John had a 85 OPS+ (.243/.312/.355) and was gunned down in 15 of 30 tries.
By 1980, Stearns was a part-timer due in part to injuries but still hit .285/.346/.370 (103 OPS+) and made his third All-Star team. In 1981, he hit .271/.329/.333. He was an All-Star for a fourth and final time for the 1982 Mets and produced a 115 OPS+ at .293/.349/.415 with 17 steals in 24 tries.
Stearns only played four games for the 1983 Mets and did not bat, then finished his MLB career at 3 for 17 in 1984, hitting .250 in limited time back in Tidewater. Becoming a free agent, he signed with the Cincinnati Reds and was a 1B-DH for their Denver Bears farm team, hitting .264/~.369/.362 in 72 games. Overall, Stearns had hit .260/.341/.375 (102 OPS+) in the majors.
Working as a coach, scout and catching coordinator after retiring as a player, Stearns managed the Knoxville Blue Jays to identical 67-77 records in 1990 and 1991. In 1994, he guided the Princeton Reds to a 41-25 finish. In 1996, Stearns was the first base coach with the Baltimore Orioles, which he served in until 1997. In 2003, Stearns became manager of the Binghamton Mets and they finished 63-78. Moving to the Norfolk Tides in 2004, Stearns' club finished 72-72. In 2005, he was New York's minor league catching coordinator. Switching to the Washington Nationals chain in 2006, Stearns became manager of the Harrisburg Senators. The next season, he was promoted to skipper of the AAA Columbus Clippers. In 2010-2011 Stearns was a scout for the Seattle Mariners. In 2012, he became the Mariners' minor league catching coordinator and in 2014 was named to the coaching staff at the major league level as Lloyd McClendon's third base coach with the M's. Stearns would resign the position in spring training though, as he recovered from hernia surgery.
His brother Bill Stearns was a catcher who advanced as far as AAA in the minors.
- 4-time NL All-Star (1977, 1979, 1980 & 1982)
Year-By-Year Minor League Managerial Record
|1988||Asheville Tourists||South Atlantic League||0-3||--||Houston Astros||--||replaced Gary Tuck (16-23) on May 18/ replaced by Jim Coveney (49-49) on May 20|
|1990||Knoxville Blue Jays||Southern League||67-77||6th (t)||Toronto Blue Jays|
|1991||Knoxville Blue Jays||Southern League||67-77||7th||Toronto Blue Jays||Lost in 1st round|
|1994||Princeton Reds||Appalachian League||43-26||1st||Cincinnati Reds||League Champs|
|2003||Binghamton Mets||Eastern League||63-78||9th||New York Mets|
|2004||Norfolk Tides||International League||72-72||7th||New York Mets|
|2006||Harrisburg Senators||Eastern League||67-75||9th||Washington Nationals|
|2007||Columbus Clippers||International League||64-80||11th (t)||Washington Nationals|
|2008||Harrisburg Senators||Eastern League||73-69||5th (t)||Washington Nationals|
|2009||Harrisburg Senators||Eastern League||70-72||7th||Washington Nationals|
|2013||Tacoma Rainiers||Pacific Coast League||59-58||6th (t)||Seattle Mariners||replaced Daren Brown (17-10) May 3|