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Jeff Torborg

Sport: Baseball

Born: November 26, 1941

Town: Westfield

Jeffrey Allen Torborg was born November 26, 1941 in Plainfield and grew up in the town of Westfield. He was a well-coordinated and powerfully sculpted athlete who starred for the Westfield High baseball team as an All-State catcher. Jeff earned a scholarship to Rutgers and during his senior year in 1963 he was an All-American. That season he set a new school record with a .537 average, which also led the nation. He batted .390 during his three varsity seasons.

Jeff was scouted by almost every big-league club but signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the chance to handle their elite pitching staff. The $100,000 bonus he was reportedly given didn’t hurt either. After one year in the minors he got his wish, making the Dodgers out of Spring Training in 1964. He spent his rookie year on the bench backing up Johnny Roseboro and Doug Camilli, but in 1965 he saw a lot more action. In September of 1965, he caught Sandy Koufax’s perfect game against the Cubs.

Over his career, Jeff gunned down more than a third of the base runners who attempted to steal against him. In the late 1960s, he had a couple of season above 50%. He never hit well enough to be a regular, but he was a dependable back-up for LA, first behind Roseboro and later behind Tom Haller. Jeff caught his second no-hitter in 1970 with Bill Singer on the mound, against the Phillies. He was sold the Angels in 1971, where he caught his third no-hitter, this one by Nolan Ryan, in 1973

Jeff retired after that season with a lifetime average of .214 and a total of 8 home runs. Regarded as a smart baseball man, he made a smooth transition to coaching and in 1977 was named manager of the Cleveland Indians. During the 1980s he spent several years as a coach in the Yankees system. Jeff later managed the White Sox and was named Manager of the Year in 1990 after they improved by 25 games. After a short stint with the Mets, he headed for the broadcast booth.

Jeff returned to the dugout with the Expos in 2001 and then managed the Marlins in 2002 and part of 2003. He was fired 38 games into the season, and his replacement Jack McKeon took Florida to the pennant and World Series championship that fall.

 

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