For today’s Sunday baseball column, I talked with former Gold Glover Mike LaValliere, who caught for the Phillies, Cardinals, Pirates and White Sox from 1984-1995. LaValliere attended New Hampshire’s Trinity High, then played at UMass Lowell. He won a 1987 National League Gold Glove.
LaValliere caught former-Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield when Wakefield was a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
One thing I didn’t include in the column was his view of whether pitchers should request their own personal catchers — in the way ex-Red Sox starter Josh Beckett always wanted Jason Varitek to catch him.
“You’ve got to be able to put the team in front of your own goals,” LaValliere said. “There were certain guys I liked to catch more than others. Put it this way: It wasn’t like when Wakefield was pitching that I’d be running up to (manager Jim) Leyland and saying, ‘Please let me catch the knuckleball. But it was part of your job and that’s what you did. Ultimately, it’s about the team. And somehow or another, I think it’s a little selfish. On the other hand, if there are problems, you’ve got to communicate, too. ‘What’s going on here?’ There’s nothing wrong with sitting down with the guy and saying, ‘Hey, we’re not clicking. Let’s fix this.’”