Ninth Inning

 

9th Inning: A Unique Membership of Nine Players

There is another impressive group that Thurman Munson is a member of that is worth pointing out when considering the full scope of his career. He is one of exactly 9 men in baseball history – including 3 catchers – who have ever won a Rookie of the Year award and MVP while also collecting a Gold Glove award and a World Series Championship in their career. The other names prior to or concurrent with Munson were Frank Robinson, Willie Mays, Johnny Bench, and Pete Rose. After Munson, the only players to achieve the feat were Cal Ripken Jr., Albert Pujols, Dustin Pedroia, and Buster Posey. Certainly an impressive collection of all-time great players!

 

The Nine Players Who Have Won a Rookie of the Year Award, an MVP Award, a World Series Title, and a Gold Glove During Their Career

Rookie of the Year

MVP

World Series

Gold Glove

Willie Mays

1951

1954 & 1965

1954

12 (1957-1968)

Frank Robinson

1956

1961 & 1966

1966 & 1970

1958

Pete Rose

1963

1973

1975, 1976 & 1980

1969 & 1970

Johnny Bench

1968

1970 & 1972

1975 & 1976

10 (1968-1977)

Thurman Munson

1970

1976

1977 & 1978

1973, 1974 & 1975

Cal Ripken Jr.

1982

1983 & 1991

1983

1991 & 1992

Albert Pujols

2001

2005, 2008 & 2009

2006 & 2011

2006 & 2010

Dustin Pedroia

2007

2008

2007 & 2013

2008, 2011, 2013 & 2014

Buster Posey

2010

2012

2010, 2012 & 2014

2016

It is worth noting that Munson is the only catcher among the 3 on this list to have ever caught a Cy Young Award winner, doing so both with Sparky Lyle in 1977 and Ron Guidry in 1978. In fact, Munson is one of only 3 Catchers in baseball history to have ever caught both a Cy Young Award-winning Closer and Starter (Ted Simmons in 81 & 82 and Terry Steinbach in 90

& 92 are the others), and he is the only one to do so in years in which his team won the World Series in both years!
Further still, during the 1978 season when Munson caught Guidry’s 18 strikeout performance on June 17th, they went on to become the only Pitcher/Catcher pair in baseball history to share both an 18 strikeout performance and win a World Series game in the same season together. The closest that any other Pitcher/Catcher combination has come to duplicating this feat was in 1959 when Sandy Koufax and John Roseboro paired up for an 18 strikeout performance during the regular season on August 31, but lost game 5 of the World Series on October 6th after giving up only 1 run in 7 innings, though the Dodgers did go on to win the championship two days later in Game 6.

As a final note, when you consider that the 1978 Guidry / Munson partnership also produced both a win in the famous season-end one game division-clinching playoff against Boston on October 2nd and the pennant-clinching ALCS win 5 days later on October 7th, it is reasonable to conclude that this was one of the most effective pairings in baseball history which produced a season of critical wins which, in total, is not likely to ever be duplicated. Perhaps let’s officially call it the “Pitcher/Catcher Joint One Season Quint-fecta”: strike out 18 in a game, win a Cy Young Award, win a one game Division- deciding Playoff, win a League Championship Series Game, and win a World Series Game. Add in the 25 victories that Guidry and Munson paired up on that season, and it is very likely to have been a “never again” historical feat by two men joined in a partnership of true excellence at the “art” of Pitching and Catching.