Former Mets batting coach Phil Cavarretta passed away yesterday at age 94. Cavarretta joined the Mets in 1973 as a batting instructor, working with major league hitters during Spring Training and then the minor league hitters once the season started. In 1975 he was added to the major league staff on a full-time basis, where he remained through the 1978 season.

Batting coaches were not an automatic thing for major league teams back in the 1970s and it was a big deal when the Mets hired Cavarretta to a full-time position with the big club. Mets announcers talked frequently about his background, which included winning the Most Valuable Player in the 1945 season.

In 1974, the Mets coaches were Rube Walker (pitching), Roy McMillan (first base), Eddie Yost (3B), Joe Pignatano (bullpen) and Willie Mays (general assistant). Yost led the league in walks six times during his career, finished with over 100 twice more and two other times had 90 walks in a season. The 1974 Mets did not have one player on their team finish with 90 walks, so it would have been curious to see how Yost would have done with the job.

But the old H.L. Mencken quote goes, Those who can do, those who can’t teach. Cavarretta certainly could do, as he had a 22-year career in the majors and finished with 1977 hits. While his MVP came during World War II, he also drew votes in six other seasons, and as late as 1951. Whether Cavarretta could teach is open for debate.

He was generally well-regarded at the time. However, the late 70s Mets were hardly known as an offensive powerhouse. But it hardly seems fair to blame Cavarretta for that, as you cannot make chicken salad from some of the hitters he had to work with on the Mets.

After he ended his tenure as a batting coach for the Mets, Cavarretta entered scouting. At the time of his death, he was believed to be the oldest living former major league player. Cavarretta is mostly known as being a Chicago Cub, but he did have ties to the Mets and it is a sad day for the organization.

One comment on “Former Mets batting coach Cavarretta dies

  • Mike Caruso

    R.I.P. Phil Cavarretta. Go Mets!

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