Gus Triandos

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Gus Triandos

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Biographical Information[edit]

Gus Triandos was signed by the New York Yankees in 1948. Working his way up through the farm system, he missed nearly all of the 1951 season and all of the 1952 season while in the military during the Korean War. Triandos reached the majors in 1953, but because of the presence of future Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra, he still spent most of 1953 and 1954 in the minors, playing a total of 20 games in the majors over those two seasons.

As a result, Triandos was included in a trade with the Baltimore Orioles with catcher Hal Smith, outfielder Gene Woodling, shortstop Willy Miranda, infielders Don Leppert and Kal Segrist, and pitchers Harry Byrd, Jim McDonald, and Bill Miller for pitchers Bob Turley, Don Larsen, and Mike Blyzka, catcher Darrell Johnson, first baseman Dick Kryhoski, outfielder Jim Fridley, and minor league player Ted del Guercio. It was the largest trade in major league history.

Triandos instantly became a success in 1955, batting .277/.333/.399 with 12 home runs and 65 RBI. He played mainly first base that year, then split his time between first and catcher in 1956 and was almost exclusively a catcher afterwards. He had a career year in 1958 where he batted .245/.327/.456 with 30 HR's and 79 RBI, finishing sixth in the American League in home runs. During his time in Baltimore, Triandos was elected to three All-Star teams (1957-1959). He regularly mowed down base stealers and retired with a very high 45 percent caught-stealing ratio.

In late 1962, Triandos was traded along with outfielder Whitey Herzog to the Detroit Tigers for catcher Dick Brown. Triandos had a good offensive year for a catcher his only year with Detroit, posting a 99 OPS+ and batting .239/.315/.407 with 14 HR's and 41 RBI. Triandos again was traded, though, this time to the Philadelphia Phillies with future Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning for pitcher Jack Hamilton and outfielder Don Demeter. Triandos, who was near the end of his career, had a fine year for the Phillies in 1964 with a 115 OPS+ and slugging .426, but his offensive game collapsed suddenly in 1965 when he began the year at .171/.253/.195 for the Phillies before being purchased by the Houston Colt .45s, where he played in only 24 games then was released that November.

Triandos was known as the unfortunate catcher who had to catch knuckleball pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm, resulting in his appearance at 8th on the modern passed ball list at 138. "Catching Hoyt was such a miserable experience, I just wanted to end the game," he told The Baltimore Sun in 2009, reflecting on Wilhelm's 1958 no-hitter; Triandos would later catch a second no-hitter, from another future Hall of Famer, Jim Bunning, with the Phillies in 1964. Also, Triandos was known for his slow speed where he only stole one base in his entire major league career, going 1 for 1 in stolen base attempts.

Triandos was elected to the Baltimore Orioles' Hall of Fame in 1981. He was so popular in Baltimore that a street in a new housing development in suburban Timonium, MD was named after him in 1962. After retirement, he settled in San Jose, CA, where he ran a mail delivery business. He suffered a broken neck in an automobile accident in the mid-1990s, but recovered fully. He died in his sleep in 2013, having suffered from congestive heart failure for the previous decade; he was 82. He was married for 61 years to his wife Evelyn, who survived him, and had two daughters.

His brother was minor leaguer George Triandos.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 3-time AL All-Star (1957-1959)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 3 (1956, 1958 & 1959)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 1 (1958)

Further Reading[edit]

  • Ted Patterson "The Baltimore Orioles: Four Decades of Magic from 33rd Street to Camden Yards"
  • Neal Poloncarz: "Gus Triandos", in Mel Marmer and Bill Nowlin, eds.: The Year of Blue Snow: The 1964 Philadelphia Phillies, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2013, pp. 231-236. ISBN 978-1-933599-51-9

Related Sites[edit]