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Gene Tenace – 1973 Topps #524

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   Fury Gene Tenace (born October 10, 1946) baseball player and current coach in Major League Baseball. He was a catcher and first baseman from 1969 through 1983. Tenace was drafted by the Kansas City Athletics from Valley High School in Lucasville, OH and played for the Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates. He batted and threw right-handed. Tenace was one of the top catchers of his era and won the 1972 World Series Most Valuable Player Award. He was known for his power, especially versus right-handed pitching.
In a 15 year career, Tenace played in 1555 games, accumulating 1060 hits in 4390 at bats for a .241 career batting average along with 201 home runs, 674 runs batted in and an on base percentage of .388. He not only caught nearly 900 games, but also played first base over 600 times. Tenace ended his career with a .986 fielding percentage as a catcher and a .993 fielding percentage as a first baseman. He reached 20 home runs in five of his seven seasons as a regular, with a high of 29 in 1975. After becoming an everyday player in 1973, he did not have an on-base average below .370 until his final year; his OBP was above .400 five times and over .390 (about 60 points above the league average) an additional three times, ending his career with an impressive .388 on base percentage. Six times he drew more than 100 bases on balls, and he led his league twice. He set the American League record for having the lowest batting average while leading the league in walks in 1974 when he posted a .211 batting average with a league-leading 110 walks. In 1977, he had a .415 on base percentage while posting a .233 batting average, the second lowest batting average with a .400 on base percentage in major league history. Less than half of his career trips to first base came via base hits, reaching 1,075 times through walks (984) and being hit by pitches (91) as opposed to only 1,060 hits.
Chuck Rosciam, a Baseball historian and a member of the Society for American Baseball Research, believes that Tenace deserves a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Using six offensive measures: Average, On-base percentage, Slugging, RBIs, Runs created and Win shares—all League-Era adjusted, Rosciam ranks Tenace sixth offensively behind Mickey Cochrane, Mike Piazza, Bill Dickey, Gabby Hartnett and Joe Torre among catchers. Tenace is tied for third in OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) with Johnny Bench and Torre. He’s only behind Roy Campanella and Yogi Berra.

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