|Grand Salami Time!|
Judging from his awesome letter, the receptive receiver seems capable of engaging any hitter in conversation. I think pitchers would have loved facing distracted batsmen.
Barton noted that some umpires were happy to converse, too. He noted one in particular, writing:
"Had a lot of conversations with Doug Harvey. He was just elected to the Hall of Fame. Great umpire. Good guy. We became friends."
I discovered that Barton belted a 1971 grand slam. That was only the beginning to an epic story. Barton continued:
"I hit the grand slam against my old teammates, the Giants, in Candlestick Park in the top of the ninth with two outs to put us in front, 9-5, as the score was obviously tied. In the bottom of the ninth, the Giants scored five runs to beat us, 10-9 (I was with the Padres).
"We got 2 guys out in that bottom of the ninth before a dear friend of mine, Dick Dietz, hit a 3-run, 2-out double to clear the bases and drive in the 8th, 9th and 10th runs to beat us. The two hitters we got out before Dick hit the double were a couple of pretty good hitters -- their names -- Willie Mays and Willie McCovey!
"True Story! Enjoy!"
Barton noted his career potential:
"Nine passed balls in eight years in the M.L. with a throwing-out potential base stealers of 43%. Might be an all-time best of the two together. Proud of that.Old catchers are sponges. They soak up all the game's details. The Bob Bartons of baseball history have so much to share. I hope someone keeps asking.
"But I got caught behind two all-star catchers, Tom Haller in S.F. and [Johnny] Bench in Cincinnati. Frustrating not getting to play more. Made five all-star teams on my way to the M.L. in the minors."
(If you hadn't guessed, www.retrosheet.org did it again. Barton's big day brought to life. Thanks, guys!)