Happy 40th (belated), Mike Lieberthal!
Mike Lieberthal was a big-time prospect for the Phillies while playing in Reading and Scranton in the early ’90s. I appreciated that even though I was an annoying little kid running around the stadium he was always gracious enough to honor my autograph requests.
Lieberthal averaged only 6 HRs/550 ABs in the minors but developed the power stroke at The Vet and scorched 31 HR in his age 27 season. There have been only 4 catchers in MLB history to go 30 HR, 30 2B and .300 Batting Average in a season (astonishingly short list below).
Unfortunately Mike’s career in Philly overlapped exactly with the doldrums of the team, ala Don Mattingly in The Bronx. The Fregosi, Dykstra, Schilling led Phillies won the pennant the year before Mike got the call-up. Over the next 13 years as Lieberthal caught pitches originated from the palms of Matt Beech and Mike Mimbs the squad shockingly posted 8 losing seasons. Mike left for LA after the ’06 season and the Phillies commenced their run of 5 consecutive NL East crowns. “If I didn’t have bad luck I’d have no luck at all.”