Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Duane Josephson (#222)

Today we take a look at Duane Josephson, the White Sox' starting catcher during the late-1960s.

Josephson was signed by Chicago in 1964, and worked his way up the ladder from rookie ball to triple-A from 1964-66. He played a few games for Chicago at the end of the ’65 and ’66 seasons, then made the White Sox at the start of 1967. (The Sox had traded veteran catcher Johnny Romano during the previous off-season.) 

Duane started 10 of 16 games in April, and alternated with J. C. Martin through the month of May. He was out of the lineup for most of June after being run over at home plate. Three days after returning to the lineup, he broke a finger and missed most of July. He finished his rookie season with 53 starts (only 16 less than Martin).

The following season he was the undisputed regular catcher, starting 113 games, while 1967’s 3rd-stringer Jerry McNertney started the rest (Martin having been shipped off to the Mets in November 1967). Duane made his only all-star team in 1968, as a reserve catcher behind the Tigers’ Bill Freehan.

After batting only .247 with very little pop (6 homers) in ’68, Josephson lost his starting job to rookie Ed Herrmann in 1969. They shared the position evenly in 1970, with the right-handed Josephson and the lefty Herrmann both greatly improving their batting averages.

During spring training in 1971, Duane was traded to the Red Sox for pitcher Vicente Romo. Josephson started half the games for the Bosox, alternating with Bob Montgomery. In September, a rookie catcher named Carlton Fisk was called up, and that was the beginning of the end for all other catchers.

Duane only played in 26 games in 1972 (6 starts behind the plate, and 15 at 1st base). His final major-league appearance came on July 2nd. Josephson had been diagnosed with pericarditis, an inflammation around the heart. This forced him into retirement in 1972 at age 30.

He died in his hometown of New Hampton, Iowa in January 1997, at age 54.

Duane Josephson profile on the SABR website


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