Friday, August 23, 2013
Vintage Fridays: Matt Batts, 1955 Bowman #161
Batts, who has one of the most fitting surnames ever bestowed upon a ballplayer, was a part-time catcher for parts of 10 seasons (1947-1956). He also served in the United States Army Air Corps during World War II. He spent the bulk of his big league career in Boston and Detroit, and peaked with the Tigers in 1953, setting career highs by playing in 116 games and hitting 24 doubles and six home runs and driving in 42 runs. Matt batted .278 that year, a few ticks above his .269 career average. The following season, he was diagnosed with hemhorraging stomach ulcers, which contributed to a downturn in performance and playing time.
It was December 6, 1954 that the White Sox traded Batts to the Orioles as part of a seven-player deal, one of many multi-player transactions that new manager Paul Richards made to overhaul Baltimore's roster. The veteran catcher didn't make it through spring training with his new club; he was sold to Cleveland's AAA team in Indianapolis on April 12. Matt later claimed that Richards sent him packing after he'd questioned the manager's instructions to throw underhand in a rundown drill. Whether that was Paul Richards' true motive or not, it makes for a funny anecdote.
Matt Batts retired from baseball in 1957 and moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana with his wife Arlene and their two daughters. The couple ran a successful printing business for many years, and eventually sold their business and retired to the Country Club of Louisiana. Matt passed away just last month at age 91.