A’s catcher Larry Haney had a habit of always reappearing on the A’s roster over the course of eight seasons. He was traded to the A’s by the Seattle Pilots in exchange for John Donaldson in 1969, appearing in 53 games that year (.151 average and two home runs). He was then brought up in 1970 before getting sent to the minors and returning again in 1972 as a September call up. He appeared briefly in 1973 before he was sold to the Cardinals, then returned back to the A’s as part of a trade in 1974 – this time staying until 1976.
His minor league stats should have been a clue to the A’s. In his minor league career, Haney led California League catchers in a bad way, hitting into 18 double plays and allowing 38 passed balls while playing for the Stockton Ports in 1962. He then led Eastern League catchers with 17 double plays while playing for the Elmira Pioneers in 1963.
Haney, known mostly for his defensive ability, was acquired three separate times by the Athletics during the 70s, and was on their roster during their entire World Championship year of 1974, playing in 74 games as he finished the season with just a .165 batting average.
Haney was such a bad hitter that the A’s hitting coach in 1969, Joe DiMaggio, refused to work with him, citing him as a lost cause. His defensive skills and ability to work with pitchers is what kept him in the big leagues for so long.
In addition to his .985 fielding percentage, he only threw out 110 of 282 stolen base attempts (39 percent). In his 7 seasons and 273 games with the A’s, Haney amounted to just a .189 batting average and only 5 homeruns. He never had more than 177 at-bats in a season (1976).
One last interesting note: Haney was such an unknown that Topps used a photo of Dave Duncan for his 1975 baseball card.
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