Earl Jesse Battey Jr.
Born: Jan. 5, 1935 in Los Angeles, Calif.
Died: Nov. 15, 2003 in Ocala, Fla.
Debut: 1955 | Pos: C
H: 6'1" | W: 205 | B: R | T: R
>> Visit the Earl Battey biography on Baseball Almanac for complete statistics.
Earl Battey, who was one of the game's best catchers in the 1960s, died on Nov. 15, 2003, at his home in Ocala, Fla., after a battle with cancer. He was 68.
Battey was a member of the Minnesota team that won the AL Championship in 1965. He hit .297 that season and finished in the top 10 in MVP voting. The Twins lost the World Series in seven games to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
He hit .270 in 3,586 career at-bats in the major leagues, hitting 104 home runs and driving in 449 runs. One of his best seasons came in 1963 when he hit .285 with 26 home runs and 84 RBI, both career highs.
"Earl Battey was one of the finest catchers I have ever seen," said Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew, a teammate on that 1965 team. "I don't think we realized how great he was until a little after our game.
"He was not a very fast guy, as people will tell you, but he made up for it with a great arm and knowledge of how to handle pitchers, particularly young pitchers."
His major league career lasted 13 seasons -- seven of those coming with the Twins. He signed with the White Sox in 1953 and debuted with Chicago in 1955. He was traded to the Senators in 1960, along with Don Mincher and cash, for Roy Sievers.
Battey was named to the All-Star team in 1962, 1963, 1965 and 1966. He finished in the Top 10 in AL MVP voting in 1960, 1963 and 1965 and he won Gold Gloves from 1960-62.
According to wire reports, Battey new enough Spanish to be able to communicate with Tony Oliva, who knew little English when he debuted with the Twins.
"He spoke Spanish and I didn't speak any English," Oliva said. "He was a veteran, I was a rookie. I was like his little brother."
Battey had continued to help young players and was reported to have spoken to Twins catcher A.J. Pierzynski several times during the 2003 season.
Source: Associated Press.