J. C. Martin
|J. C. Martin|
December 13, 1936 |
|Batted: Left||Threw: Right|
|September 10, 1959 for the Chicago White Sox|
|Last MLB appearance|
|August 12, 1972 for the Chicago Cubs|
|Runs batted in||230|
|Career highlights and awards|
Joseph Clifton Martin (born December 13, 1936 in Axton, Virginia, United States) is a former Major League Baseball player. The left-handed hitting, right-handed throwing Martin played for the Chicago White Sox from 1959 to 1967, New York Mets in 1968 and 1969 and Chicago Cubs from 1970 to 1972.
Martin was scouted by the White Sox as an amateur free agent in 1956. After five seasons in the ChiSox farm system, which included callups to the majors late in 1959 and 1960, Martin became a regular in 1961. Splitting time between first base and third base, Martin batted .230 with five home runs and 32 runs batted in.
Martin converted into a catcher in 1962, after Al Lopez convinced him to go down to the minor leagues and learn to catch. Regular catcher Sherm Lollar was at the tail end of his career at the age of 37; moreover, the White Sox had traded Earl Battey and Johnny Romano and had no catchers in their farm system. As the team’s regular catcher, Martin batted only .205 in 1963 and .197 in 1964.
In 1965 Martin batted a career-best .261; however, he also set a major league record with 33 passed balls (after committing 24 the year before)—due, in large part, to catching knuckleball pitchers Wilhelm and Eddie Fisher. This record stood until Geno Petralli committed 35 passed balls in 1987.
In 1967 Martin batted .234 on a team that was involved in a four-way pennant race with the Minnesota Twins, Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox for the American League pennant, which the latter of these teams won on the final day of the season. The White Sox had been eliminated from pennant contention after losing a doubleheader to the lowly Kansas City Athletics on September 27. After the season, the White Sox traded Martin to the New York Mets to complete a deal that had been made earlier in the season. On July 22 of that year the Mets had traded Ken Boyer to the White Sox for Bill Southworth. Both teams received a player to be named later in the deal; Sandy Alomar, Sr. was traded to the White Sox on August 15 to complete one side of the trade, and the trade of Martin to the Mets on November 27 completed the other. In another deal that same offseason, the White Sox traded Tommie Agee and Al Weis to the Mets with four players (among them Tommy Davis and Jack Fisher) going to the White Sox.
Career with the Mets 
In 1969 Martin, as one of two backup catchers to Jerry Grote (the other was Duffy Dyer), played on a Mets team that shockingly won the National League East title (both leagues now had two divisions after expanding from 10 teams to 12) after trailing the Chicago Cubs by as many as 10 games in August. In Game One of the first-ever NLCS, which the Mets swept over the Atlanta Braves, Martin, pinch-hitting for Tom Seaver, drove in Weis and Ed Kranepool with a base-hit off Phil Niekro during a five-run eighth inning, the Mets winning the game 9–5. The Mets went on to win the World Series in equally surprising fashion, in five games over the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles. In Game Four of that Series, his Mets leading two games to one, Martin was involved in a controversial play. With the game tied 1–1 in the bottom of the 10th and pinch-runner Rod Gaspar on second, Martin, again pinch-hitting for Seaver, bunted to the mound and, while running to first, was hit on the arm by Pete Richert’s errant throw, the error allowing Gaspar to score the winning run. Replays later showed that Martin had been running inside the baseline, which could have resulted in him being called out for interference; however, the umpires said they didn’t make the call because they felt Martin didn’t intentionally interfere with the play. As a result of this play, the running lane that extends from halfway down the first-base line to the bag was added to all major league fields. A runner can be running in this lane and be hit by a thrown ball and not be called for interference.
Martin was traded to the Chicago Cubs on March 29, 1970 for catcher Randy Bobb. After being released by the Cubs during spring training of 1973, Martin served on their coaching staff in 1974. He was also a White Sox broadcaster alongside Harry Caray on WSNS in 1975.
In his career Martin batted .222 with 32 home runs and 230 RBIs in 908 games played.