This is the 3rd consecutive 1967 high-number card posted. Let’s see how long I can maintain the streak…
At age 78, J. C. Martin is the oldest living player from the 1966-70 era that I have not yet featured on one of my blogs.
J. C. was a backup catcher who stretched his career to 14 seasons. His first 9 were with the White Sox. After 2 seasons with the Mets (including the 1969 Champs), he returned to Chicago with the Cubs.
Martin was signed by the White Sox in 1956, and played 5 seasons in the minors (with a few MLB games in ’59 and ’60) before getting a full-time job with the Sox in 1961. He was with the Sox for the entire ’61 season, but as the backup at 1st and 3rd bases. (He had no catching experience up to this point.)
Martin returned to the minors for most of the 1962 season to learn the catching trade, and was the #1 backstop for the Sox’ class-A team in Savannah, GA.
J. C. returned to the bigs in 1963, and was the backup catcher for the Sox for the next 5 seasons, playing behind Cam Carreon
for 2 seasons, and Johnny Romano
for 2 seasons. (In 1964 he actually caught more games than Carreon, who missed part of the season with an injury.) In 1967 he split the catching chores with rookie Duane Josephson
Martin was sent to the Mets after the 1967 season as the player to be named later for Ken Boyer
, who was acquired in mid-1967. Backing up #1 catcher Jerry Grote, J.C. started 52 games behind the plate and another 13 games at 1st base in 1968, and made 44 starts behind the dish in 1969. He played 2 games in the 1969 NLCS (collecting 2 RBI) and 1 game in the World Series.
His time to bask in the World Championship glow was short, as he was traded to the Cubs the following March for backup catcher Randy Bobb. Martin played 3 seasons with the Cubs before he was released during spring training in 1974.