LaValliere in 1995
August 18, 1960 |
Charlotte, North Carolina
|September 9, 1984, for the Philadelphia Phillies|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 22, 1995, for the Chicago White Sox|
|Runs batted in||294|
|Career highlights and awards|
Michael Eugene "Mike" LaValliere (born August 18, 1960), nicknamed Spanky, is a former catcher in Major League Baseball whose 11-year career included tenures in both the National and American Leagues. He batted left-handed and threw right-handed.
Signed by the Philadelphia Phillies as an amateur free agent in 1981, LaValliere started out as a third baseman but was converted to catcher in 1982. He was sent to the St. Louis Cardinals during the 1984 season as part of a conditional deal. Signing with the Cards as a free agent in 1985, LaValliere spent two years with the club, which included a trip to the World Series. Excellent at throwing out potential base stealers, he won a Gold Glove award in 1987.
LaValliere went to the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Throughout his career he was known as a great defensive catcher, he even reached a 75% caught stealing percentage in 1993 for the White Sox. He definitely had one of the best catching arms to ever play the game.
In spring training of the 1987 season, LaValliere was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates alongside Andy Van Slyke and Mike Dunne in exchange for fellow catcher Tony Pena. LaValliere and Van Slyke later became stalwarts on the hugely successful Pirates teams of the early 1990s, when Pittsburgh went to three consecutive National League Championship Series from 1990-1992. Unfortunately for the Pirates, they lost in all three of their NLCS appearances, in 1990 to the eventual World champion Cincinnati Reds and in 1991 and 1992 to the Atlanta Braves. In the 1992 NLCS, LaValliere was involved in the famous final play of Game 7, as Atlanta first baseman Sid Bream slid and just barely beat the tag to score the Series-winning run for the Braves.
During the 1993 season, LaValliere was released by Pittsburgh, and signed a contract with the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox won the American League West division title, but lost in the ALCS to the eventual World champion Toronto Blue Jays. LaValliere would spend two more seasons in Chicago before retiring. He now teaches baseball lessons and holds camps at a place called Big League Experience.