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john marzano, 1996 donruss signature, mariners

Player: Marzano, John

Card: 1996 Donruss Signature

Position: C

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"Johnny Marz", was a catcher who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers, and Seattle Mariners, from 1987 to 1992 and 1995 to 1998.

John Robert Marzano was born on February 14, 1963 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He attended church and grade school at Annunciation Blessed Virgin Mary, the Roman Catholic parish two blocks from his family’s row home. The Marzanos were a close-knit Italian family with patriarch John Sr., matriarch Laura (Lezzi), and their four children: Robert, Kathy, Joyce, and John. Like most red-blooded American boys, John loved baseball, but what set him apart from his peers was the countless hours he spent practicing with his dad, John Sr., a retired Army Warrant Officer.

John was signed as a 1st round pick in the 1984 amateur draft by the Boston Red Sox and scout Phil Rossi. In the 1984 Olympics, John was a member of the United States team which took the Silver medal in Los Angeles. The year before, he had won a Silver Medal with Team USA in the 1983 Intercontinental Cup and a Bronze Medal in the 1983 Pan American Games.

On July 31, 1987, Marzano made his major-league debut against former Cy Young winner Bret Saberhagen and the Kansas City Royals. Marzano went 0-for-3 at the plate but caught Roger Clemens’ three-hit shutout. On August 3, Marzano collected his first big-league hit, a three-run homer, off Texas pitcher José Guzmán. He also threw out the first baserunner who attempted to steal on him; future MLB All-Star and NFL Pro Bowler Bo Jackson. He later gunned down Rickey Henderson twice before the year was over. By season’s end, Marzano had appeared in 52 games and batted .244 with five homers. He also caught nine of Roger Clemens’ wins during the righthander’s second Cy Young Award winning season, including his 20th victory.

Generally utilized as a backup catcher, Marzano was a member of division champions with the 1988 and 1990 Red Sox, and the 1997 Mariners, for whom he posted a .287 batting average.

As a reserve catcher with the Mariners in 1996, he became a cult hero in Seattle when he threw a haymaker at New York Yankees outfielder Paul O'Neill during a game in the Kingdome on Wednesday, August 28. When Paul O’Neill took offense at being brushed back by Mariners’ pitcher Tim Davis, the Yankees outfielder glared at the mound and complained to the home plate umpire. John, who was catching that day, instructed O’Neill to “shut up and hit.” O’Neill went after Marzano, who rammed his catcher’s mitt into his opponent’s face and threw a haymaker at him, causing a bench-clearing brawl. The umpires ejected John, O’Neill, and four other players.

AL president Gene Budig suspended Marzano, O’Neill, and Jeff Nelson for two games and fined O’Neill and three other players for their roles in the melee. He did not fine Marzano. “I guess [AL] officials looked at my salary and decided, ‘We can’t fine this guy,’” Marzano quipped. Afterwards, Griffey asked the Seattle Times to help him play a practical joke on his friend. A fake news story was written claiming that Mike Tyson had seen the Marzano-O’Neill fight and expressed an interest in a non-title bout with the catcher. The newspaper also designed a faux front page to its sports section entitled “Marzano’s Next Fight: Tyson?” and 50 copies were circulated in the Mariners’ clubhouse.

(excerpted from Baseball Almanac, SABR, BR Bullpen & Wikipedia)


1990 Topps #69T
1991 Topps #574
1992 Donruss #448


Johnny is also part of the Boston Red Sox Player Tour – Go to the Next Stop

See all Johnny’s baseball cards at TCDB

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