Chris Cannizzaro, who was one of the original Padres in 1969 and the franchise’s first All-Star, has died.
Cannizzaro had a 13-year career as a catcher in the major leagues from 1960-74, playing for six different teams. He was honored by the Padres in a pregame ceremony over the summer during the run-up to the 2016 All-Star Game hosted at Petco Park.
Cannizzaro, 78, who lived in Rancho Penasquitos, had been suffering from emphysema in recent years.
He played for the original Mets — and one-of-a-kind manager Casey Stengel — after being drafted off the St. Louis Cardinals during the 1961 expansion draft.
Cannizzaro joined the Padres during spring training in ’69 after being traded from Pittsburgh just days before the expansion franchise’s inaugural season began. He was behind the plate on opening night, catching for starter Dick Selma in a 2-1 win over the Astros at San Diego Stadium.
He spent two full years with the Padres before being traded to the Cubs early in the 1971 season. Cannizzaro returned to the Padres in 1974 for his final year in the majors.
In 1969, as the All-Star Game approached that year, speculation centered on either Padres outfielder Ollie Brown (batting .269 with 12 home runs and 41 RBIs) or first baseman Nate Colbert (.253, 14 HR, 34 RBIs) being the team’s representative in the game.
Cannizzaro was batting .245 with two homers and 25 RBIs. But it seemed the National League needed a catcher to…
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