Bill Plummer
Plummer in 1978
Catcher
Born: (1947-03-21)March 21, 1947
Oakland, California, U.S.
Died: March 12, 2024(2024-03-12) (aged 76)
Redding, California, U.S.
Batted: Right
Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 19, 1968, for the Chicago Cubs
Last MLB appearance
September 7, 1978, for the Seattle Mariners
MLB statistics
Batting average.188
Home runs14
Runs batted in82
Managerial record64–98
Winning %.395
Teams
As player

As manager

As coach

Career highlights and awards

William Francis Plummer (March 21, 1947 – March 12, 2024) was an American professional baseball player and manager. He played in Major League Baseball as a catcher in 1968 and then from 1970 to 1978, most notably as a member of the Cincinnati Reds dynasty that won four National League pennants and two World Series championships between 1970 and 1976. He also played for the Chicago Cubs and the Seattle Mariners.[1]

Playing career

Plummer was born in Oakland, California, and attended Anderson Union High School in Anderson, California. After one year at Shasta College, he was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals on April 25, 1965, as an amateur free agent, and was named a Florida Rookie League All-Star that summer. Plummer played three years in the Cardinals' minor league system. While playing for Sparky Anderson with the Modesto Reds in 1967, Phillies scout Eddie Bockman noted that Plummer was "strong, can catch everyday," has "all the desire and hustle in the world," and "recommend a Rule 5 draft on him if he is available."[2]

The Chicago Cubs selected Plummer from the Cardinals on November 28, 1967, in the Rule 5 draft.[1] Plummer made his MLB debut on April 19, 1968.[3] He spent nearly all of 1968 on the bench and catching in the bullpen in Chicago due to the rules on sending Rule 5 drafted players to the minor leagues. Plummer made his major league debut with the Cubs on April 19, 1968, at the age of 21 in a 9–2 road loss to the Cardinals. Pinch-hitting for Chuck Hartenstein, he struck out against Hal Gilson.[4] He had only one more at-bat that season and played in just two games.[5]

The Cubs traded Plummer, Clarence Jones, and Kenneth Myette to the Reds for Ted Abernathy on January 9, 1969.[6] He spent the season with the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians. He was in the minors again in 1970, but was called up to the pennant-winning Reds in September, long enough to play in four games with nine plate appearances, including his first career hit.[1] While with the Indianapolis Indians, Plummer was a 1970 American Association All-Star and 1971 American Association All-League selection.[7]

While never a regular starter—he was Johnny Bench's backup catcher during the Big Red Machine years—he did play solid defense with a .983 fielding percentage, but was a lifetime .188 hitter. His most memorable game was in 1974, when he hit two home runs in Philadelphia off Hall of Famer Steve Carlton.[8][9]

Plummer also played multiple seasons of winter league baseball, with the Lobos de Arecibo in 1970-71 and 1972-73 in Puerto Rico, Águilas del Zulia in 1975-76 in Venezuela, and the Marineros de Guaymas in 1978-79 in Mexico.[10][11][12][13]

Plummer's career as a backup catcher was profiled in a Sports Illustrated article in July 1977. "I've always wondered how Bill would do if he played two months straight," said Pete Rose. "He's a physical fitness nut, and if hard work means anything, he would do all right." The article's writer said of Plummer, "He is a private person. He hoards his time and spends it with his wife Robin and two daughters, Gina and Tricia. He doesn't drink, works out, jogs and plays tennis, and during the winter he labors on his father-in-law's northern California cattle ranch."[9]

Coaching career

After he retired as a player, Plummer stayed in the Mariners' system, and managed the San Jose Missions in 1980, the Wausau Timbers in 1981, the Chattanooga Lookouts in 1984 and 1985, and the Triple-A Calgary Cannons from 1986 through 1988. Plummer managed the Leones del Caracas to a Venezuelan Winter League championship in 1986–87.[14] He also managed Caracas for the 1988–89 season.[15]

Plummer was the Mariners' bullpen coach in 1982, 1983, 1989, and 1990, and third base coach for the second half of 1988 and 1991. When third-year manager Jim Lefebvre was fired after the 1991 season, the franchise's first with a winning record,[16] Plummer was promoted for 1992.[17][18] Seattle finished in last place in his only season as manager, with a 64–98 (.395) record,[19][20][21] and Plummer was let go in October.[22][23] The club had been sold in July,[24][25][26][27] and he was succeeded in November by Lou Piniella for the 1993 season.[28][29][30]

Plummer spent 1993 and 1994 in the Colorado Rockies organization, starting the 1993 season as the AZL Rockies pitching coach and ending the season as the major league bullpen coach in Denver. In 1995, Plummer returned to managing with the Jacksonville Suns, the Detroit Tigers' Double-A affiliate. In the spring of 1996, the International Division of Major League Baseball sent Plummer and other coaches, including Fernando Arroyo, Jim Lefebvre, and Greg Riddoch, to serve as official advisors to the upstart Taiwan Major League.[31]

In 1996, Plummer converted Tigers third baseman Phil Nevin into a catcher in Jacksonville.[32] The Tigers fired Plummer from Jacksonville at the All-Star break, despite winning the Southern League first-half championship, and Plummer finished the season managing the Billings Mustangs in Cincinnati's farm system.[33]

Plummer went on to manage independent league baseball with the Western Baseball League's Chico Heat from 1997–1999,[34] and Yuma Bullfrogs from 2000–2001. In 2002, he joined the Arizona Diamondbacks' minor-league system, eventually working his way up to their Triple-A affiliate, the Tucson Sidewinders,[35] which he managed in 2007–2008. Plummer managed the Tigres de Aragua for the 2001–02 season. Plummer served as the minor league catching coordinator for the Diamondbacks from 2009 to 2012. He became the manager of the Naranjeros de Hermosillo of the Mexican Pacific League in 2011.[36]

In 2013, Plummer served as manager of the Diamondbacks' Single-A affiliate Visalia Rawhide of the California League in his 22nd season as a minor league manager.[37] Through the 2013 season, he had a career minor league managing record of 1351–1253 (.519).[37] In 2014, Plummer reassumed the role of Arizona Diamondbacks catching coordinator. Plummer announced his retirement at the end of the 2017 season, with a career managerial record of 1583–1459 (.520). Plummer is a member of the Shasta County Sports Hall of Fame and Sacramento Area Baseball Hall of Fame.[38][39]

From 2018 to 2023, Plummer had been the hitting coach, catching coach and bench coach for the summer collegiate Redding Colt 45s.[40][41]

Managerial record

Summer record

Team Years Level Record
W L Win %
San Jose Missions 1980 California League 73 66 .525
Wausau Timbers 1981 Midwest League 84 48 .636
Chattanooga Lookouts 1984–1985 Southern League 129 158 .449
Calgary Cannons 1986–1988 Pacific Coast League 194 180 .519
Seattle Mariners 1992 American League 64 98 .395
Jacksonville Suns 1995–1996 Southern League 114 99 .535
Billings Mustangs 1996 Pioneer League 13 24 .351
Chico Heat 1997–1999 Western Baseball League 171 98 .636
Yuma Bullfrogs 2000–2001 Western Baseball League 84 94 .472
Lancaster JetHawks 2002, 2005 California League 127 113 .529
Yakima Bears 2003–2004 Northwest League 80 72 .526
Tennessee Smokies 2006 Southern League 70 69 .504
Tucson Sidewinders 2007–2008 Pacific Coast League 135 149 .475
Visalia Rawhide 2013 California League 77 63 .550
Total 1415 1331 .515
Source:[42]

Winter record

Team Years Level Record
W L Win %
Leones del Caracas 1986–87 and 1988–89 Venezuelan Winter League 86 60 .589
Tigres de Aragua 2001–02 Venezuelan Winter League 44 38 .537
Naranjeros de Hermosillo 2011–13 Mexican Pacific League 38 30 .559
Total 168 128 .568
Source:[42]

Personal life

Plummer's father, William Lawrence Plummer, pitched in the Pacific Coast League from 1921 to 1927, and his uncle, Red Baldwin, was a catcher in the Pacific Coast League from 1915 to 1931. The elder Plummer and Baldwin were teammates in 1924 and 1925 with the Seattle Indians. Plummer's grandson, Conner Menez, has played in MLB.[43]

Plummer, who resided in Northern California, earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Chico State University while managing the Chico Heat in the late 1990s, decades after leaving Shasta College after one year and signing with the Cardinals in 1965.[44]

Plummer's former player Edgar Martinez was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2019, and specifically mentioned Plummer in his acceptance speech as having been an important coach during his minor league career.[45]

In October 2021, a documentary entitled Plum: A Baseball Life, about Plummer's 53-year baseball career, was released.[46][47][48]

Plummer died on March 12, 2024, at his home in Redding, California, after a heart attack.[49][50] He was 76.

Featured in books

References

  1. ^ a b c "Bill Plummer Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved October 1, 2016.
  2. ^ "Bill Plummer scouting report, 1967". BaseballHall.org. 1967. Retrieved November 6, 2020.
  3. ^ "bill plummers mlb debut". The Greenville News. April 20, 1968. p. 8 – via newspapers.com.
  4. ^ "April 19, 1968 Chicago Cubs at St. Louis Cardinals Play by Play and Box Score". Baseball-Reference.com. April 19, 1968. Retrieved October 1, 2016.
  5. ^ "1968 Chicago Cubs Statistics". Baseball-Reference.com.
  6. ^ "Article clipped from The Times". The Times. January 10, 1969. p. 25 – via newspapers.com.
  7. ^ "1984 American Association All Time Records". 1984. pp. 76, 78.
  8. ^ "Phillies win in 9th on Cash's double". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). Associated Press. June 9, 1974. p. 65.
  9. ^ a b McDermott, Barry (July 18, 1977). "Few things come to him who waits". Sports Illustrated. p. 54.
  10. ^ "New Cincy hurler may be surprise". The Journal Herald. January 20, 1971 – via newspapers.com.
  11. ^ "20 Reds to Play Winter Baseball". The Cincinnati Enquirer. October 27, 1972 – via newspapers.com.
  12. ^ "Sports Roundup". The Cincinnati Post. November 22, 1975 – via newspapers.com.
  13. ^ "Everyone has worries". Record Searchlight. November 1, 1978 – via newspapers.com.
  14. ^ "Feb 03, 1987, page 19 - Record Searchlight at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com.
  15. ^ "LVBP: Muere ex manager de Leones del Caracas". Meridiano. (Venezuela). Meridiano Television. March 13, 2024.
  16. ^ LaRue, Larry (October 11, 1991). "Lefebvre gone as M's skipper". Spokane Chronicle. (Washington). McClatchy News Service. p. C1.
  17. ^ "Mariners call for Plummer". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). McClatchy News Service. October 30, 1991. p. D1.
  18. ^ "Mariners, Yanks name managers". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. October 30, 1991. p. 3B.
  19. ^ Cour, Jim (October 5, 1992). "M's beat McDowell in season finale". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. p. C3.
  20. ^ "Baseball: American League". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). (standings). October 5, 1992. p. C4.
  21. ^ LaRue, Larry (October 6, 1992). "M's had their highs and lows". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). McClatchy News Service. p. C3.
  22. ^ "New owners figure one year is enough". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. October 14, 1992. p. 1B.
  23. ^ "Plummer, all coaches fired by M's". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. October 14, 1992. p. C1.
  24. ^ Carson, Rob (June 12, 1992). "M's still financial concern". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). McClatchy News Service. p. C1.
  25. ^ "Mariners' sale gains approval of the owners". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. June 12, 1992. p. 1C.
  26. ^ "M's owners expect city to produce". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. June 13, 1992. p. C2.
  27. ^ "Mariners have new owner as sale completed". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. July 2, 1992. p. C3.
  28. ^ Finnigan, Bob (November 10, 1992). "Piniella takes Mariners' helm". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). (Seattle Times). p. C1.
  29. ^ "Piniella assumes Mariners' helm". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. November 10, 1992. p. 3F.
  30. ^ Cour, Jim (November 10, 1992). "Piniella faces his biggest challenge". Moscow-Pullman Daily News. (Idaho-Washington). Associated Press. p. 1B.
  31. ^ Jordan, David K.; Morris, Andrew D.; Moskowitz, Marc L. (2004). The Minor Arts of Daily Life: Popular Culture in Taiwan. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 978-0-8248-2800-4.
  32. ^ "nevin plummer catching". Detroit Free Press. May 2, 1996. p. 127 – via newspapers.com.
  33. ^ "Article clipped from The Billings Gazette". The Billings Gazette. July 27, 1996. p. 19 – via newspapers.com.
  34. ^ "Sep 20, 1996, page 19 - Record Searchlight at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com.
  35. ^ "Tucson dominates PCL All-Star vote". MiLB.com.
  36. ^ "Bill Plummer nuevo manager Naranjero | de Beisbol". November 5, 2011.
  37. ^ a b "D-backs announce 2013 Minor League coaching staff | Arizona Diamondbacks". Arizona.diamondbacks.mlb.com. December 19, 2012. Retrieved October 1, 2016.
  38. ^ "Shasta County Sports Hall of Fame". Shasta County Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved November 6, 2020.
  39. ^ "62nd Sacramento Area Baseball Hall of Fame" (PDF). cbarchives.com. Retrieved November 23, 2023.
  40. ^ "2019 SEASON REVIEW: HOT STREAKS AND STRONG STARTERS". ReddingColt45s.com. August 12, 2019.
  41. ^ "Bill Plummer coach profile". ReddingColt45s.com.
  42. ^ a b "Bill Plummer Minor, Winter & Independent Leagues Statistics". Baseball-Reference.com.
  43. ^ Report, Staff (May 15, 2022). "Get to know new Cubs pitcher Conner Menez | Chicago Cubs News". Marquee Sports Network – Television Home of the Chicago Cubs and Sky.
  44. ^ "Mendoza's Heroes: Bill Plummer". alpepper.tripod.com. Retrieved November 6, 2020.
  45. ^ "HALL OF FAME INDUCTION CEREMONY SPEECHES TRANSCRIPT, 2019 JULY 21". BaseballHall.org. Retrieved November 6, 2020.
  46. ^ Mangas, Mike (June 3, 2019). "Film student making documentary about local baseball star". KRCR. Retrieved February 7, 2020.
  47. ^ Plum: A Baseball Life, retrieved February 7, 2020
  48. ^ Hanson, Ethan (October 21, 2020). "U-Prep grad's 'PLUM' hopes to highlight value Redding legend brought to pro baseball". Record Searchlight. Retrieved October 28, 2020.
  49. ^ "Plummer, 'Big Red Machine' backup C, dies at 76". ESPN.com. March 13, 2024.
  50. ^ "Former MLB player from Anderson dies at age 76". ActionNewsNow.com. March 12, 2024. Retrieved March 12, 2024.