Sunday, January 3, 2016

Card #149: Pat Putnam

Who Can It Be Now?
Patrick Edward Putnam was born in Bethel, Vermont, on December 3, 1953. There have not been many major leaguers born in Vermont -- 38 total as of the end of 2015 -- and only 6 have made their debuts since 1965. Those include Carlton Fisk, Putnam, Len Whitehouse, Mark Brown, Chris Duffy, and Daric Barton.  

As the always excellent source of a SABR biography for him notes, Pat grew up outside Burlington. Luckily for Pat's baseball career, his father's job transferred him to Fort Myers, Florida, when Pat was 8 years old. Pat first attended Miami-Dade North JC on a baseball scholarship, and then went to play at the University of South Alabama under the legendary Eddie Stanky.

After his Junior College graduation, Putnam was selected by the New York Mets in the 12th Round of the 1974 draft but chose not to sign and went to USA (then SAU). The next year, he was drafted in the 1st round of the June secondary draft by the Rangers and chose to sign.

He first reached the major leagues in 1977, but Putnam's major league career took off in 1979. He finished tied for fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting thanks to hitting 18 HR in 139 games for the Rangers. He followed that up in 1980 with a 18 HR season -- both of which were punctuated with an OBP of .319. The problem for Putnam, though, was that the Rangers fell in love with Mike Hostetler in 1982. So, after the 1982 season, he was traded to the Seattle Mariners for a journeyman-type pitcher named Ron Musselman.

Putnam looked like a genuine steal for the Mariners in 1983 when he hit 19 HR and drove in 67. But, once again, his team fell in love with a rookie at first base -- this time, in 1984, the rookie was Alvin Davis who was a far better hitter than Putnam, who found himself traded at the end of August to the Minnesota Twins.

At the age of 31 and for the 1985 season, Putnam served as a Triple A insurance policy for the Kansas City Royals. Tiring of that role and not having a family to consider as a single man, Putnam signed on with the Nippon Ham Fighters for the 1986 season. He did so well there -- .286/.355/.478, 25 HR, 78 RBI -- that he stayed another year.  His 1987 season in Japan was his last real professional season, not counting the Senior League.

Mustache Check
It's not the best photo of him, but pretty much every Pat Putnam photo and card available shows Pat as clean shaven. So, I'm guessing that he is here too. 

Totally Gnarly
Putnam had a reputation early in his career as being something of a nutjob. As the 1980 Topps blog noted, the Sporting News from June 7, 1980, said that "Putnam belongs on any all-whacko list for his proclivities of eating dog biscuits, imitating Shamu the Whale in the whirlpool and assorted other eccentricities."

No wonder he's still a bachelor.

A Few Minutes with Tony L.
Maybe it was just holiday boredom that overtook me, but I decided to post here again today. Maybe if try I do one of these a week or two a month or something, I'll have the time to do it.

In my head, when Pat Putnam's name comes up, he's a Mariner -- despite the fact that he spent less than two full seasons there. That is almost certainly a recency bias on my part. Well, that and the 19-homer season he had that year.

Putnam spent most of his post-baseball life as a businessman in his hometown of Fort Myers, Florida. He started a company called Home Environment Center, which (the SABR biography tells me) specialized in "air and water purification." It appears that Putnam may have retired from that company in the past few years after the SABR biography was written, as the company is no longer an active Florida Corporation.

I'm not 100% sure what Mr. Putnam is up to these days, though it's possible that he is a member of the Lee County Tennis Association who is responsible for dealing with people interested in playing pickleball at Waterway Park on Poetry Lane in North Fort Myers. I mean, I could call the phone number on that page and ask if that person is the same Pat Putnam, but that feels a bit intrusive to me.


  1. Maybe Mel Gibson's character on Lethal Weapon used Putnam as an inspiration for dog biscuit eating....

  2. A friend of mine who is an avid golfer met Pat at the US amateur tournament a couple of years ago. Pat was following and caddying for his son who was on the circuit.