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chris coletta, 1975 TCMA Pawtucket Red Sox #12

Player: Coletta, Chris

Card: 1975 TCMA Pawtucket Red Sox #12

Position: OF

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Christopher Michael Coletta (born August 2, 1944, in Brooklyn, New York) is a retired professional baseball player (corner outfielder) who played one season for the California Angels of Major League Baseball. Coletta was also with the Boston Red Sox organization and had an impressive career in the International League. He played for the now defunct Louisville Colonels—the AAA farm club for Boston at that time. He was teammates with (among others) Carlton Fisk and Jim Lonborg during that period of his career.

In fact, Coletta was in the Red Sox minor-league system for ten seasons (1963–72)--- from age 18 to age 28. In 1963, he hit .312 for Waterloo (Class A). In 1964, he hit .326 for Winston-Salem (Class A). Promoted to Class AA in 1965, he hit .318 for Pittsfield --- then in 1966, he hit .311 for Pittsfield. During these four seasons, his on-base percentage was around .400, and his slugging percentage always over .435—all healthy numbers given the low offensive output of the era.

After a poor season in 1967, he hit .314 for Savannah (Class AA) in 1968, at which point he was finally promoted to the Class AAA Louisville team. Coletta then was stuck in AAA Louisville for four seasons despite some superb statistics—he hit .294 in 1969, .332 in 1970, .311 in 1971, and .319 in 1972 (with on-base percentages around .400, and slugging percentages around .450).

In mid-August 1972, about a week after turning 28 years old, Coletta was finally liberated from the (at the time) dysfunctional Red Sox organization --- he was traded to the Angels for Andy Kosco --- so that the Red Sox could employ a journeyman (Kosco) in their (failed) attempt to win the AL East that year.

In his month-and-a-half stint with the Angels, Colleta hit .300. His OPS+ (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage normalized to the league average) was 130, meaning his performance was 30% better than the league average. Because 1972 was such a poor season for batting in general – the DH was instituted in the AL the next year because scoring was down so much – translating Coletta's batting average to an "average" season (average ballpark, average runs scored, etc.), Coletta would have hit .353 under those circumstances.

On September 24, his 8th-inning homer off Jim Perry broke a 1-1 tie and provided the winning margin in the Angels 2-1 win over the Twins (in what turned out to be his second-to-last Major League at bat). For the month and a half, Coletta got 31 plate appearances and hit that one homer and had 7 RBI. Pro-rated over a full season (600 plate appearances), this would equate to 19 HRs and 135 RBIs.

Despite this rather impressive showing, the Angels sent him back to the minors in 1973. On August 9, 1973, Chris was involved in a violent collision at Home Plate with catcher Bill Fahey that impacted Fahey's career. With the Hawaii Islanders visiting Spokane, Hawaii outfielder Coletta sped toward home on a single to the outfield. As Fahey reached for the approaching throw, Chris’ knee struck Fahey in the side of his torso. Fahey was carried from the field to the hospital, where he remained for 10 days. With five broken ribs and a punctured lung, the collision led to a string of injuries that plagued Fahey for three seasons.

Given that he was turning 29 that in 1973 (which was old for a player at that time), they thought he was too old to invest much time on. He was traded to the Phillies organization later that season, and then after being released, played for the Red Sox organization again. In his final four minor league seasons (1973–76), Coletta hit .284, .306, .271, and .273.

(excerpted from Centerfield Maz, Baseball Almanac, BR Bullpen & Wikipedia)


Photo from baseball-birthdays


Chris is part of the New York City Born Player Tour – Go to the Next Stop

See all Coletta’s baseball cards at TCDB

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