Rick Dempsey

Rick Dempsey

Rick Dempsey
Born: (1949-09-13) September 13, 1949
Fayetteville, Tennessee
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 23, 1969, for the Minnesota Twins
Last MLB appearance
September 27, 1992, for the Baltimore Orioles
MLB statistics
Batting average .233
Home runs 96
Runs batted in 471
Career highlights and awards

John Rikard Dempsey (born September 13, 1949) is an American former professional baseball player.[1] He played for 24 seasons as a catcher in Major League Baseball from 1969 to 1992, most notably for the Baltimore Orioles.[1] Dempsey was known for being one of the best defensive catchers of his era.[2]


  • Major League career 1
  • Career statistics 2
  • Coaching and broadcasting career 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Major League career

Dempsey was selected by the Minnesota Twins in the 15th round of the 1967 Major League Baseball Draft out of Crespi Carmelite High School.[3] After two seasons in the minor leagues, he made his major league debut late in the 1969 season for the division winning Twins managed by Billy Martin, however he didn't qualify for the post-season roster.[1] Dempsey spent a few more seasons shuttling between the Twins and their minor league teams, before being traded to the New York Yankees in October 1972.[4] During his tenure with the Yankees, he served as a reserve catcher to Thurman Munson, and received tutoring from Yankees coach and former catching standout, Jim Hegan.[2] After three and a half seasons with the Yankees, he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles in June 1976, where manager Earl Weaver made him the Orioles' starting catcher.

For the next ten and a half seasons, Dempsey would remain as the Orioles' starting catcher.[5] He became known for his exceptional ability to handle pitching staffs, his strong throwing arm, and for his agility behind home plate.[2] In 1979, the Orioles defeated the California Angels in the 1979 American League Championship Series to reach the World Series.[6] In the 1979 World Series, the Orioles won three of the first four games against the Pittsburgh Pirates and seemed to be on the verge of winning the championship, when the Pirates, led by Willie Stargell, rebounded to win the final three games.[7] It was one of Dempsey's greatest disappointments of his playing career.[8]

The highlight of his career came in 1983, when the Orioles won the American League Eastern Division pennant, then defeated the Chicago White Sox in the 1983 American League Championship Series, before winning the 1983 World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies.[9][10] Dempsey posted a .385 batting average along with a .923 slugging percentage in the five-game series, and won the World Series Most Valuable Player Award, one of six catchers to have won the award.[5][11][12][13]

In 1987, Dempsey became a free agent and signed a contract to play for the Cleveland Indians.[4] After only one season with the Indians, he became a free agent once again and signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he would be a member of another World Series-winning team in 1988, this time as a back up catcher to Mike Scioscia.[1] While playing for the Dodgers in 1990, he became involved in a brawl with Phillies' center fielder Lenny Dykstra, who took exception to Dempsey's fraternization with the home plate umpire.[14] After three seasons with the Dodgers, he played one season with the Milwaukee Brewers, before returning to the Baltimore Orioles for his final season in 1992.[4]

His sense of humor during his playing career was renowned, and he was famous for his "rain delay theatre" performances, in which he emerged from the dugout in stockinged feet onto the tarpaulin covering the infield during a rain delay and pantomimed hitting an inside-the-park home run, climaxed by his sliding into home plate on his belly on the wet tarp, all to the raucous delight of the soggy fans.[5] He sometimes did this while wearing a pair of underpants over his uniform, making fun of teammate Jim Palmer's famous advertisements for Jockey brand briefs.

Career statistics

In a 24 year career, Dempsey played in 1,765 games, accumulating 1,093 hits in 4,692 at bats for a .233 career batting average along with 96 home runs and 471 runs batted in.[1] He ended his career with a .988 fielding percentage.[1] Dempsey led American League catchers twice in fielding percentage, twice in baserunners caught stealing and once in assists.[1] He played more games as a catcher than any other player in Orioles history (1230).[15] During his career, Dempsey caught ten different twenty game winning pitchers.[5] He was a durable player, only going on the disabled list twice in his career.[16]

While he was a light-hitting player, Dempsey's lengthy major league career was due in part to his excellent defensive skills.[2] He usually did not make a large contribution offensively; he holds the major league record for the most seasons with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title with less than 50 runs or RBI, with 22. During his season with the Brewers, Dempsey made two relief pitching appearances, giving three hits and one run in two innings pitched.[17] Dempsey also won a Little League World Series in 1963 with the team from Canoga Park-Woodland Hills, California.[16] He is the uncle of former major league catcher Gregg Zaun.[1] Dempsey is one of only 29 players to play in four different calendar decades.

Coaching and broadcasting career

After his playing career ended, Dempsey became a minor league Dave Cash.

Dempsey has been a candidate for managerial openings with the Orioles in the past, as recently as 2003 when the Orioles interviewed him for the spot that eventually went to Lee Mazzilli. He was mentioned again as a possible candidate for the Baltimore manager's job in 2010, after the firing of Dave Trembley.

Dempsey also served as an Oriole color commentator in 2000 and began another stint in 2007, as the studio analyst for O's Xtra on MASN, the cable channel that carries Orioles games. In addition, he serves as a game analyst for occasional games on MASN. In 1985, Dick Enberg was in Toronto for Games 1 and 7 of the 1985 ALCS on NBC. Enberg hosted the pregame show alongside Dempsey (who was still active with Baltimore at the time). In 1995, Dempsey worked as a field reporter for ABC's coverage of the All-Star Game from Texas.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Rick Dempsey at Baseball Reference
  2. ^ a b c d , by George Vass, Baseball Digest, May 2005, Vol. 64, No. 3, ISSN 0005-609XFor Catchers, The Name of the Game is Defense
  3. ^ 1967 Draft Results at The Baseball Cube
  4. ^ a b c Rick Dempsey Trades and Transactions at Baseball Almanac
  5. ^ a b c d , by Ed Lucas and Paul Post, Baseball Digest May 2006, Vol. 65, No. 3, ISSN 0005-609XRick Dempsey Looks Back on his 24 Seasons as a Big League Catcher
  6. ^ 1979 American League Championship Series at Baseball Reference
  7. ^ 1979 World Series at Baseball Reference
  8. ^ , by Rick Dempsey, Baseball Digest, November 1987, Vol. 46, No. 11, ISSN 0005-609XThe Game I'll Never Forget
  9. ^ 1983 American League Championship Series at Baseball Reference
  10. ^ 1983 World Series at Baseball Reference
  11. ^ Rick Dempsey post-season batting statistics at baseball Reference
  12. ^ Post-season Awards at Baseball Reference
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ Most Games Caught For Team at The Encyclopedia of Baseball Catchers
  16. ^ a b , by Wayne Coffey, Baseball Digest, February 1998, Vol. 57, No. 2, ISSN 0005-609XRick Dempsey: His Career Survives Fires of Combat
  17. ^ Rick Dempsey Pitching statistics at Baseball Reference
  18. ^ Rick Dempsey minor league manager record at Baseball Reference

External links

  • Rick Dempsey Official Website
  • Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
  • Baseball Gauge
  • Retrosheet
  • SABR Biography
  • Venezuelan Professional Baseball League
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Tom Beyers
Bakersfield Dodgers Manager
Succeeded by
John Shelby
Preceded by
Bill Russell
Albuquerque Dukes Manager
Succeeded by
Phil Regan
Preceded by
Bruce Benedict
Norfolk Tides Manager
Succeeded by
John Gibbons
Preceded by
Mark Cresse
Los Angeles Dodgers Bullpen Coach
Succeeded by
Jim Lett
Preceded by
Eddie Murray
Baltimore Orioles First Base Coach
Succeeded by
Dave Cash
Preceded by
Tom Trebelhorn
Baltimore Orioles Third Base Coach
Succeeded by
Tom Trebelhorn
Preceded by
Elrod Hendricks
Baltimore Orioles Bullpen Coach
Succeeded by
Larry McCall
Preceded by
Dave Cash
Baltimore Orioles First Base Coach
Succeeded by
Sam Mejías