John Bateman (baseball)
July 21, 1940|
[Fort Sill, Oklahoma]
|Died: December 3, 1996
Sand Springs, Oklahoma
|April 19, 1963 for the Houston Colt .45s|
Last MLB appearance
|October 3, 1972 for the Philadelphia Phillies|
|Runs batted in||375|
Born in Killeen, Texas, Bateman grew up in Lawton, Oklahoma. He signed with the expansion Houston Colt .45s as an amateur free agent in 1962. In 10 seasons he compiled a .230 lifetime batting average, and ended his career with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Houston Colt .45s
Bateman clubbed 22 home runs for the Modesto Colts in 1962, and made the Colt .45s out of spring training the following season as Jim Campbell's back-up behind the plate. Campbell, however, sputtered, and soon lost his starting job to Bateman. On May 17, 1963, Bateman caught the first ever no-hitter in Houston franchise history. Don Nottebart held the Philadelphia Phillies hitless in a 4–1 Astro win. For the season, Bateman batted .210 while leading his team with ten home runs and 59 runs batted in.
Bateman split time behind the plate with Jerry Grote in 1964. In 1965, the Colt .45s moved into their new domed stadium team owner Judge Roy Hofheinz dubbed the Astrodome (named in honor of Houston's importance to the country's space program). To match with the meaning of the name, the Colt .45s were renamed the Astros. His first season with his newly renamed club, Bateman batted only .197 with seven home runs backing up Ron Brand at catcher.
In 1966, Bateman won back the starting catcher job, and set a franchise record with sixteen home runs by a catcher, a record that still stands today.
Bateman and Brand shared catching duties for the Astros through the 1968 season. On October 14, 1968, Bateman was drafted by the Montreal Expos as the sixth overall pick in the 1968 Major League Baseball expansion draft; 52 picks later, the Expos selected Brand, and the two resumed their platoon in Montreal.
Like his unique first with the Astros, Bateman also caught the Expos' first no-hitter: the first of Bill Stoneman's two, on April 17, 1969 against the Philadelphia Phillies—in only the ninth game in the franchise's history.
Bateman had a unique, if not trivial, place in Canadian history. He was a member of the Expos in October 1970, the same time the October Crisis was happening in the city. This was one of the most notorious and tense time in recent Canadian political history. On November 6, the hiding place of one of the FLQ terrorist cells was discovered. John Bateman loved hanging out with the police, and being a star on the new pro team in town, the Montreal police also loved his company. As retold on a television documentary about the history of the Expos, the manager Gene Mauch was watching these events with his staff on TV, and the camera focused on the hiding place in the house. And what do they see, on national TV, but John Bateman's bulky frame coming out of the hiding place. Evidently the police let him have some fun. Mauch was not amused.