Card: 1975 Topps #553
"But [Claude] Mouton [PA announcer] saved his very best intro for one of the original Expos, John Boccabella. Marshalling a level of enthusiasm you might use on a Hall of Famer, Mouton's greeting for the light-hitting, part-time catcher remains one of the most indelible memories for any old-time Expos fan. 'Le receveur, the catcher, numero neuf, number nine… JOHHHNNNN BOCK-[extremely long pause]-a-BELLLLLL-a!!!'" - Jonah Keri, from 2014's Up, Up & Away
If you were a National League fan from 1969 to 1973, one of the memorable things about Montreal Expos home games was this call. Claude Mouton, the distinctive public-address announcer at old Jarry Park, loved to roll the r’s in names like Herrera and Hermoso. But he always took special delight in this catcher’s musical Italian name.
John Dominic Boccabella (born June 29, 1941) is a former catcher and first baseman in Major League Baseball from 1963 to 1974 with the Chicago Cubs, Montreal Expos and San Francisco Giants.
Born in San Francisco, California to Italian immigrant parents, Boccabella grew up in San Anselmo. He was signed by the Chicago Cubs before the start of the 1963 season. He made his debut as a first baseman with the Cubs on September 2, 1963 at the age of 22. Despite hailing from San Francisco, the Cubs' radio announcers dubbed him "Boccabella from 'Pocatella'. In 1966, Cubs manager, Leo Durocher made the decision to convert him into a catcher to serve as a backup for Randy Hundley.
Boccabella was drafted from the Cubs by the Montreal Expos in the 1968 expansion draft. He served as a utility player until 1973 when he became the Expos' primary catcher. John had a career highlight on July 6, 1973 when he hit two home runs in the sixth inning at Jarry Park, including a grand slam.
Boccabella was traded to the Giants on March 27, 1974 after five seasons in Montreal. After one season with his hometown team, he retired at the age of 33. He worked as a marketing representative for Pacific Gas and Electric for 19 years and retired in 1993.
John is part of the Born in San Fran/Oakland/Sacramento Tour – Go to the Next Stop
Johnny B is also part of the New York/SF Giants Players Tour – Go To the Next Stop
John is also part of the Chicago Cubs Players Tour – Go To the Next Stop
See all Boccabella’s baseball cards at TCDB
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