(c) Houston Astros

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Position: C      Born: Oct 6, 1942      Bats: Right      Throws: Right

Jerry Grote was a fine defensive catcher for the New York Mets in their pennant-winning seasons of 1969 and 1973. Although never an overpowering hitter, his skill in catching and calling pitches made him a key contributor to those teams.

On September 27, 1963, Grote was the starting catcher in the All-Rookie Game. Originally signed by the Houston Colt .45s, Grote was made the club's first-string catcher in 1964 at age 21. However, the Colt .45s were convinced that Grote would never learn to hit after he batted only .181 that season, and thus traded him to the Mets in October 1965 for pitcher Tom Parsons.

"I was glad to come over to the Mets from Houston," Grote once said. "I knew that team would never win. They had too many old players, and they had no defense. It was different with the Mets. You could see the young talent."

Grote handled much of that young pitching talent. In his 13 seasons in New York, he caught Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Nolan Ryan, and Jon Matlack. Grote played in the All-Star Games of 1968 and 1974. His best statistical year was 1975, when he batted .295 with 39 RBIs.

Grote was traded to Los Angeles in 1977. After playing there for two years he retired, but came back in 1981, playing for Kansas City, and then returning to Los Angeles. He briefly coached for the Tigers' Lakeland and Birmingham farm clubs, and later became the sales manager for development for a San Antonio firm.