Card: 1992 Fleer #313
Eugene James Petralli (born September 25, 1959 in Sacramento, CA) is an American former professional baseball player. Geno is the son of former minor league baseball first baseman Gene Petralli, who played from 1948 to 1953, mostly in the Chicago White Sox organization.
Geno played as a catcher in Major League Baseball for the Toronto Blue Jays and the Texas Rangers from 1982 to 1993. He was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the third round (53rd overall pick) of the January regular phase of the 1978 Major League Baseball draft. He made his debut on September 4, 1982 pinch-hitting for catcher Buck Martinez and got his first major league hit the following day - finishing the season with a .364 average in 16 games. From there he was sent up and down multiple times.
Petralli, who served as the Rangers' Union Player Representative in 1986, when his most important task was catching knuckleballer Charlie Hough. Handling the notoriously difficult pitch put Geno in the record books three times during the season.
The first came on August 22, as he committed four passed balls in one inning to tie the major league record of Ray Katt, catching knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm in 1954. The record was later tied by Ryan Lavarnway of the Boston Red Sox in 2013, catching knuckleballer Steve Wright in his first major league start. Eight days later, Geno committed six passed balls in one game to tie another record. Overall, Petralli's 35 passed balls that year—32 with Hough pitching—were the most by a big league catcher since Jack Boyle committed 71 in 1892.
Offensively, Petralli continued to improve in 1986 as well, as he became the first catcher in Rangers franchise history to bat over .300, posting a .302 average. He played in 101 games with 202 at-bats, seven home runs and 31 RBIs, all career highs to that time. His numbers dipped thereafter, and he spent most of his career as a back-up/platoon player.
One of the highlights of Petralli's career came on July 31, 1990, when he caught Nolan Ryan's 300th career win. Back in a full-time role for the entire season catching Hough, Petralli led all of Major League Baseball in passed balls for the third time in four years, matching his 1988 total of 20.
His son, Ben Petralli, was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 47th round of the 2007 amateur draft.
Geno is part of the Born in San Fran/Oakland/Sacramento Tour – Go to the Next Stop
See all of Geno’s cards at TCDB
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