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CATCHER OF THE WEEK: Mickey Livingston

In this regular feature, we will help you acquaint yourself with some of the finest practitioners of the most thankless task in baseball to ever don the “tools of ignorance” for our beloved Chicago Baseball teams. This week we feature Mickey Livingston.

Mickey’s about to catch a sandwich from the press box.

Mickey Livingston was the embodiment of a baseball journeyman. His page on Baseball-Reference that includes his minor league stats will fill up your screen. Between the minor and major leagues, he played for 21 teams in 11 different leagues across 8 different levels. By the time he retired, his luggage was more stickers than suitcase.

Thompson Orville Livingston was born in 1914 in the textile town of Newberry, South Carolina. He got his start playing for teams from textile mills before beginning his Homeric career in Sanford in the Florida League in 1937. I mean Homer the Greek author, because in his well-traveled pro baseball career he only had 54 round trippers.

In 1937 he played for three teams in the Washington system, ending in Charlotte of the Southern Association. For the year, he ran a .259 batting average and a .348 slugging percentage. In 1938 he played for Trenton before getting called up to Washington at the end of the season, where he went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles.

He was unable to crack the Senators’ catching corps, which was headed by future Hall of Famer Rick Farrell, so he stayed in the Washington farm system for 1938 through 1940. After the 1940 season, the Brooklyn Dodgers drafted him and almost immediately included him in a package that went to the Phillies and got the Dodgers Kirby Higbie (and the 1941 pennant).

In Philadelphia, he finally had a role as a backup catcher. And for the 1942 and 1943 seasons, he had the added advantage of there being a shortage of able bodied catchers, as players were being drafted into the military during World War II.

1943 was the one season where he actually put up something resembling fulltime numbers, playing in 120 games – 84 for the Phillies, then getting traded to the Cubs, where he played another 36. He also had a slash line of 253/313/362, along with a career high 7 home runs.

He missed the 1944 season while in the Army, but received a medical discharge, returning to the Cubs for the 1945 season. Livingston was the Cubs starting catcher, as the Cubs won the pennant. Even though the Cubs did not win the World Series that year, it was no fault of Livingston, who hit .364 with 3 doubles.

I will never not love these jerseys.

The next year he lost the starting role to Clyde McCullough, and in 1947 he was sent to the New York Giants. The following year he was a Boston Brave. He then spent some time in the minors before getting called up to Brooklyn near the end of the 1951 season (during their epic collapse) to fill in for an injured Roy Campanella. His final game in a big league uniform was watching Bobby Thomson hit the “shot heard round the world” to win the pennant for the Giants.

He spent a few years after that as a player-manager, then just a manager, in the minor leagues before leaving professional baseball for good. He passed away in Houston in 1983.

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