#29: Gene Tenace
The Kansas City Athletics selected Gene Tenace in the 20th round of the 1965 draft, and he spent significant time in the minors before being called up in 1969, after the A’s had moved to Oakland. Until 1971, he served primarily as a third string catcher and didn’t see as much playing time as he likely hoped he would. The following season, however, he took home the World Series MVP Award.
Tenace was on all three of the Athletics’ Championship teams in the 1970s, providing not just stellar defense behind the plate, but some legitimate power in his bat. His best season was 1975, when he not only made an All-Star Game appearance, but drew MVP votes for his performance. He hit 29 home runs, with 83 RBIs, and he proved to be a valuable defender at both first base and catcher.
After the 1976 season, Tenace became a free agent and signed a contract with the San Diego Padres, along with fellow Athletics teammate Rollie Fingers. He spent a short time with St. Louis and Pittsburgh, as well, picking up another World Series ring as a member of the Cardinals. Tenace went on to become a skilled hitting coach, and spent significant time on the Toronto Blue Jays’ staff – including two World Series wins with them.
Next: Top 50 Oakland Athletics: #28