Friday, February 19, 2010
[Dave: In honor of the first day of Spring Training, let's take a look at the very first Marlin.]
Charles Johnson, C
Played for Marlins: 1994-1998, 2001-2002
Other Teams: LA Dodgers (1998), Baltimore (1999-2000), Chicago White Sox (2000), Colorado (2003-2004), Tampa Bay (2005)
Marlins fans know him because: Johnson was the first member of the Marlins, drafted in the first round (28th pick) of the 1992 draft out of the University of Miami. He quickly rose through the minor leagues, making his debut in 1994 and becoming the everyday catcher starting in 1995, whereupon he won four straight Gold Gloves. In 1997 he set a Major League record by catching 123 games without committing a single error. He also made the NL All-Star Team in 1997 and 2001, and homered in Game 1 of the 1997 World Series. He is also one of the few members of the Marlins Diaspora to be traded by the team twice (in 1998 and 2002)
Everyone else knows him because: For a brief period, Johnson was the best defensive catcher in the game, posting a career caught-stealing percentage of 39. Johnson also was involved in the infamous Mike Piazza trade in 1998, when the Marlins sent him to LA with Gary Sheffield, Bobby Bonilla, and Jim Eisenreich in exchange for Piazza and Todd Zeile.
Best Marlins moment: CJ had his fair share of great moments, but the top has to be his big league debut on May 6, 1994. Johnson was called up from the minors to replace an injured Benito Santiago. In the fourth inning against Curt Schilling (then with the Phillies), CJ homered in his second career at bat, earning a curtain call from the home crowd (of over 31,000, incredibly). It was a good sign, for sure.
Photo via Bleacher Report