Moving on to 1969 this week. I only have three 1969 Senators cards in my collection at this point so this should be a short year.
First up we see Jim French on card number 199 in the 1969 Topps set. Jim's got the old school catcher's gear going here. That brings back some memories for me. I can remember going to my grandparent's house and seeing the gear that my Dad's high school baseball team used. The old iron catcher's mask was still in the gear bag and I remember thinking that it sure was heavy.
In 1969 Jim served primarily as a backup to Paul Casanova. He did appear in 62 games, all as catcher. Jim logged 489 innings behind the plate and put together a .989 fielding percentage, one point higher than the league average. He also threw out 31 of the 62 runners who attempted to steal on him. That was the second highest number of runners thrown out by any A.L. catcher that year. His 50% caught stealing average was the best in the league.
Like most backup catchers though Jim was kind of one dimensional. In 202 trips to the plate he managed only a .184 batting average. He did walk 47 times though and never grounded into a double play. That upped his on base percentage to .348. Jim also managed to score 14 runs and knock in 13 RBI.
All in all Jim was a nice backup catcher to have around in 1969. His defense was pretty good and his ability to control an opponent's running game was superb. One has to wonder if he would have replaced Paul Casanova if he had been able to get his batting average up.