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CATCHER OF THE WEEK: Steve Christmas

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 Steve Christmas.

That’s what I call a Christmas card.

Look, we do CotW on Wednesdays, Christmas is on a Wednesday, and there’s one guy named Christmas who caught on both sides of town. Is this a lazy and obvious choice? Of course it is. I’m obviously lazy. Anyway, shouldn’t you be out wassailing or something instead of reading this? Or, if you swing another way religiously, getting ready to go to the movies?

Anyway, Steve Christmas. He was born on December 9, 1957 – saving himself from even more Christmas jokes by 16 days. He was drafted by the Twins in 1975, but Steve decided to go to college instead. A year later, the Reds signed him and sent him to the Eugene Emeralds, where he hit .306 in 46 games at age 19.

He spent the next few years knocking around the Reds system until 1983, where after putting up decent numbers in AAA Tucson, he got the call to join the Reds. He found the National League tough sledding, as he got one single and one walk in 19 plate appearances.

He was then traded to the White Sox that offseason, and went to AAA Denver and had a 3 game stint with the Sox in midseason before getting a September callup, and posting a shiny 4-for-11. So now in his first two stints in the bigs, he’s managed to caddy for Johnny Bench and Carlton Fisk. Decent.

At least his parents were kind enough to not name him Noel.

He spent the 1985 season as the Sox full-time AAA catcher, posting a very respectable 298/373/445 slash line. After the season was over, he took the el up to Addison St. and signed a free agent deal with the Cubs. While he again spent most of the season in AAA, slashing 300/365/428 and getting a short stint with the Cubs, going 1-for-9.

But that 1 hit was in his third game, a pinch-hit, 2 run game winning double off Montreal’s Jeff Reardon. He also got a shot at playing some first base. Unfortunately for Christmas, while taking infield practice at Dodger Stadium, he felt something in his arm pop. One visit to Frank Jobe pretty much sealed the deal, as Jobe recommended surgery. Christmas got a second opinion (or as many as it took to get one that didn’t include surgery), and he wound up with his arm in a cast for a couple months.

That was the end of Steve Christmas’ professional baseball career. He spent 24 games in the big leagues. It might not seem like much, but it’s 24 games any of us would have given our left nut to have.

Thanks to everyone who has been a part of our maiden voyage here, and we promise that you’ll get a lot more to read once either team does anything of note.

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