Chooch Fills A Need

Scouts are a very unheralded but important component of a successful baseball program. They spend hours following kids and are expected to project how they will perform when they become men. Not exactly a precise science.

Allen Lewis, a base-stealing outfielder from Panama who spent parts of six seasons in the majors and another seven in the minors, is the Phillies scout who gets credit for finding Carlos Ruiz. Came across Lewis’ December 3, 1998 scouting report:

“Good athlete and good ability. Does his job in a very quiet way. Should develop into a good hitter. Should improve with games under his belt. Has all the basics you look for but needs a lot of work. Outstanding kid and a hard worker.”

Believe Lewis captured Chooch perfectly.

He’s developed into a quality catcher and clutch hitter and will be behind the plate again for the Phillies after signing a three-year contract last week. His ability to handle a pitching staff, both veterans and youngsters, is so vital. Bringing in another catcher would have created a major learning project, especially with the addition of a new pitching coach. Chooch knows his pitchers and can help a youngster like Miguel Gonzalez.

Catching 110 games this season will put Chooch at 900 on the Phillies all-time list. He’ll be behind Jack Clements (953 games), Darren Daulton (965), Bob Boone (1,095), Red Dooin (1,124) and Mike Lieberthal (1,139). Of that group, Clements has the highest lifetime batting average (.289), followed by Lieby (.275) and Chooch (.274). It is difficult to gauge Clements’ career numbers because he played from 1884-1897. We do know he is the only left-handed throwing catcher in Phillies history.

Boone, Daulton and Lieby are the only catchers in the Phillies Wall of Fame. Someday, Chooch will be the fourth. After all, he’s the only catcher in Phillies history to be behind the plate for two no-hitters.

With Brian McCann bolting for the Yankees, Chooch is the premier catcher in the National League East now. McCann was a Phillie killer who loved to hit in Citizens Bank Park. We won’t miss seeing him.

The Phillies faced multiple needs this offseason. Two needs have been filled in Marlon Byrd and Chooch, a pair of right-handed bats.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING….Gobble till ya’ wobble!


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