Happy birthday to former Padre Gene Tenace. The now-66-year old spent four years in San Diego as a catcher and first baseman in a career sandwiched with World Series championships elsewhere.
A backup catcher for the A's the first four years of his career, Tenace blew up in the 1972 World Series, hitting .348 with 4 home runs after hitting only 5 in the regular season. For this he won the World Series MVP award and a job as the A's starting first baseman the next season. Though he would go on to win three more rings, Tenace struggled with the bat in all 8 other postseason series he appeared in, batting .109 with no home runs and 5 RBI in 91 ABs.
After the 1976 season, Tenace brought his blend of power and patience to San Diego. He hit 24 homers and led the league with 125 walks in his first season with the Padres. He was very consistent in his four years as a Friar, with yearly OPS+ numbers of 134, 134, 139 & 137, averaging out to 136 which is also his career mark. After the 1980 season he was sent to the Cardinals with Rollie Fingers and two Bobs- Shirley and Geren- for seven players including Terry Kennedy and Steve Swisher.
Tenace spent most of his final three seasons on the bench, serving as backup catcher for the Cardinals in '81 and '82, winning his fourth World Series ring in the latter season. He spent his last year on the playing field with the Pirates and retired following Spring Training for the 1984 season. After hanging his spikes up, Tenace kept on wearing the rest of a baseball uniform, serving with the Astros and Blue Jays as a hitting coach, retiring for good after the 2009 season.
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