1970-dyerHow many people have a backup catcher as their all-time favorite player?  Here’s a look at Duffy Dyer, who was tops in my book when I first started following the team.

One of the great things about being a fan is it allows you to be completely irrational.  Why else do we have such strong attachments to people we’ve never met and are likely to never meet for more than a few minutes or so in our entire life?  To this day, if you ask me who my favorite Mets player is, I’ll tell you without a moment’s hesitation that it’s Duffy Dyer.

I’ve never met Duffy Dyer and I wouldn’t recognize him now if he walked past me on the street.  Yet, I still have an extremely strong allegiance to him.  Just typing his name puts a smile on my face.  Why is that?

He was never a particularly good player.  Dyer was a backup catcher for the late 60s-early 70s Mets.  His career lasted 14 seasons and only twice did he appear in as many as 90 games.  He played in 94 games in 1972 and matched that total five years later for the Pirates.

I can’t tell you why Dyer is my favorite Met.  I’m guessing I probably saw him hit a game-winning home run, although that seems unlikely as he only hit 16 in his career with the team.  Maybe it was because he had a son my age that was also named Brian.  But I can vividly remember arguing with my brother that he needed to start over Jerry Grote.

Grote was frequently banged up and Dyer saw a lot of playing time in 1972.  He hit eight home runs that year, which was more than Grote ever hit in his career.  In fact, it matched the total Grote hit from 1970-1973.  Duffy had a 94 OPS+ in 1972, not bad for a catcher, but it wasn’t enough to earn the full-time job.  Grote had the reputation as the top defensive catcher in the game, on a par with Johnny Bench, if you can believe it.  And Duffy never wowed them behind the dish.

1973-dyerAs a big baseball card fan, it was always a thrill to get a Dyer card.  And most all of them had him crouching.  In 1969, he was on a rookie card with two other players and it was just a generic head shot.  In 1970, he was crouching.  In 1971, he was crouching.  In 1972, he was crouching.  I guess that was the standard backup catcher pose.  After playing the 94 games in 1972, Duffy got a promotion.  His 1973 Topps card showed him coming up from a crouch.  And in 1974, we finally got to see him hold a bat.

And then came one of the saddest days of being a fan.  Following the 1974 season, the Mets traded Dyer to the Pirates.  For Gene Clines.  How on earth could they trade my hero for a nobody?  I tried to console myself with the fact that Clines had a couple of .300 hitting seasons on the back of his baseball card, but it was small comfort.  Especially when he came to Flushing and hit .227 in his only year with the club before he was dealt for the forgotten Joe Lovitto.

Meanwhile, Dyer played seven more seasons after the trade.  He played on some good Pirates teams in the middle of the 1970s and even got to play in the NLCS for them in 1975.  That was nice for Duffy after he didn’t play at all in the 1973 post-season.  Dyer finished his career playing a year with the Expos and then parts of two seasons with the Tigers.

In 722 career games from 1968-1981, Dyer posted a .221/.306/.315 line.  After taking off the 1982 season, Dyer started his post-playing career as a coach for the Cubs.  Here is his coaching career:

1983 Chicago Cubs bullpen coach
1984 Kenosha Twins manager
1985 Kenosha Twins manager
1986 El Paso Diablos manager
1987 El Paso Diablos manager
1988 Denver Zephyrs manager
1989 Milwaukee Brewers 3B coach
1990 Milwaukee Brewers 3B coach
1991 Milwaukee Brewers 3B coach
1992 Milwaukee Brewers 3B coach
1993 Milwaukee Brewers 3B coach
1994 Milwaukee Brewers 3B coach
1995 Milwaukee Brewers 3B coach
1996 Oakland A’s 3B/bench coach
1997 Oakland A’s 3B/bench coach
1998 Oakland A’s 3B/bench coach
1999 Bluefield Orioles manager
2000 Bluefield Orioles manager
2001 Bridgeport Bluefish manager
2002 Bridgeport Bluefish manager
2003 New York Mets scout
2004 New York Mets scout
2005 Erie Sea Wolves manager
2006 Erie Sea Wolves manager
2008 San Diego Padres catching instructor

It’s been quite a post-playing career from Duffy.

These days, I prefer the stars like Carlos Beltran or Jose Reyes or David Wright.  And while Beltran might be the best all-around player the Mets have ever had and Reyes the most electrifying and Wright the most likely to break the club’s MVP drought, they’ll never be Duffy Dyer.