Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Cup of Coffee: Bill Heath

Every Thursday the JOBC blog features stories about players who only got a "cup of coffee" with the Cubs. If you'd like anyone featured, by all means, drop me a line at rick (at) justonebadcentury (dot) com.

Charlie wrote the following e-mail to me:
"I remember that the Cubs had a catcher in the late 60s whose last name was Heath. I used to think that the Beatles song 'Taxman' was talking about him when they said 'Ah ah, Mr. Heath.' (Give me a break...I was seven.) Anyway, he would be a good 'cup of coffee' for your blog."

Good idea, Charlie. Your memory was correct. Bill Heath was a backup catcher for the Cubs in 1969, and with less than 200 career at bats, certainly qualifies as a "cup of coffee."

His story has a very dramatic ending by the way. Heath was catching on August 19, 1969. If you're a real stats geek, you may remember that Ken Holtzman threw a no-hitter for the Cubs that day. Even though Heath started the game, he wasn't around for that dramatic last out. Early in the game he was hit by a foul tip and broke his hand. Gene Oliver finished the game at catcher, and Heath was placed on the DL. He never played in the majors again.

Ironically, Ken Holtzman's second no hitter for the Cubs (June 3, 1971), also was caught by a cup-of-coffee backup catcher who rarely played (Danny Breeden). Breeden and his brother Hal were both on the Cubs for a very short time that year. Danny played 25 of his 28 career major league games with the Cubs that year.