Brad Gulden – Our Interview with the Former Catcher [Click for More!]

Brad Gulden

A 2023 interview with the former catcher

Gulden with the LA Dodgers


  • Los Angeles Dodgers, 1978; New York Yankees, 1979 - 1980; Seattle Mariners, 1981; Montreal Expos, 1982; Cincinnati Reds, 1984; San Francisco Giants, 1986

Life and Career Before the Majors

Bradley Lee Gulden was born on June 10, 1956 in New Ulm, Minnesota, which is about 100 miles southwest of Minneapolis.

Gulden attended Chaska High School near Minneapolis where he starred as a pitcher. 

He was selected out of High School by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 17th round of the 1975 draft. Gulden was the first player in Chaska High history to be taken in the MLB draft, with teammate Jay Nelson being drafted a few rounds after him that season. 

Of note, Chaska has produced one other MLB draftee - three-time MLB all star pitcher, Brad Hand. 

Gulden started his professional baseball career after the draft in 1975, and during his tenure in the minors he was converted to a catcher. 

His first minor league season came with the Low-A Bellingham Dodgers in 1975. 

The following season, he played 103 games for the Danville Dodgers, and in 1977 he moved up to the Lodi Dodgers where he hit .300 over 118 games.

Gulden was promoted to the triple-A Albuquerque Dukes for the 1978 season, where he had another productive year. In light of his strong season at the AAA level, Gulden got the call to the big leagues late in the year.

Gulden’s Big League Debut

Brad Gulden made his major league debut September 22, 1978 at Dodger Stadium. 

It was a Friday night game against the San Diego Padres in front of a crowd of 38,743 people. 

Gulden entered the game in the 7th inning as a defensive replacement for Dodgers catcher Joe Ferguson.

He got his first MLB at bat in the 8th inning against Padres pitcher Bob Shirley (a groundout to shortstop). 

Gulden next played at San Diego on September 30th and the following day, October 1st. 

His tenure with the Dodgers was short lived, however, as he was traded the next February to the New York Yankees for Gary Thomasson.

Brad Gulden with the New York Yankees
Brad Gulden during his time with the Yankees

Catching with the Yankees and Mariners

The bulk of the 1979 season was spent with the Yankees' triple-A club, the Columbus Clippers. Gulden got the call back to the majors in early August and he made his Yankees debut in the Bronx on August 3, 1979 in a game against the Baltimore Orioles. 

That game was a somber one, as it came one day after the legendary Thurmon Munson died in a plane crash.

The following evening in front of more than 46,000 fans, Gulden made his first MLB start and collected his first big league hit. 

His first hit happened in the bottom of the fifth. Gulden led off and laced a double to right field off of Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Stone. 

A few batters later, Gulden scored to put the Yankees up 2 - 0 (the Yanks ultimately lost 5 - 4).

Gulden was a regular in the Yankees lineup between early August and the end of September. He played in 40 games during that span, and started behind the plate for most of those games.

Brad Gulden 1979 Yankees
A mount visit during the 1979 season at Yankee Stadium. The pitcher is Catfish Hunter, the manager is Billy Martin and Gulden is the catcher.

However, he struggled at the plate, hitting only .163 for the 1979 season while with the Yanks.

The Yankees acquired new catcher Rick Cerone after the '79 season, and Gulden would go on to spend almost all of the 1980 season with the Yankees' AA and AAA teams. 

His only MLB appearances in 1980 came during the last two games of the regular season, at home against the Detroit Tigers. 

In November of 1980, the Yankees traded him to the Seattle Mariners along with $150,000 for Larry Milbourne and a player to be named later. 

Gulden then appeared in eight games with Seattle in April of 1981. 

Oddly enough, the Mariners then shipped him back to the Yankees in May. 

Remember that player to be named later? It was Gulden.

He spent the rest of the year in triple-A, and in April of 1982 he was traded by the Yankees to the Montreal Expos for catcher Bobby Ramos.

Time with the Expos, Reds and Giants

Gulden played the bulk of the 1982 season with the Expos triple-A affiliate Wichita Aeros, outside of five games with the big league club between May and July. 

After the season, the Yankees picked him up again. However, he never made it back to the Bronx but spent all of 1983 with the Columbus Clippers.

After the season, Gulden signed a free agent contract with the Cincinnati Reds.

It would prove to be a good move for him.

In 1984, Gulden spent the entire season at the major league level and served as the Reds' primary starting catcher. He posted career highs in essentially all statistical categories, including collecting four home runs and 33 RBIs.

Brad Gulden Cincinnati Reds
Gulden catching with the Reds during a 1984 game in Pittsburgh (source: Getty Images)

Despite playing 107 games with the 1984 Reds, Gulden was back in the minors again in 1985. 

Midway through the season, the Astros purchased his contract. Then, in December, he signed a free agent deal with the San Francisco Giants.

Gulden bounced around in 1986 between San Francisco and Phoenix, where the Giants' triple-A club was located at the time.

He appeared in 17 games for the 1986 Giants across April, May and September.

After hitting only .091 for San Francisco, he was released after the season. Gulden then decided to retire. 

Career Highlights and Post-Playing Years 

Across his 7 years in the big leagues, Gulden batted .200/.277/.276 with 87 hits, 5 home runs and 43 RBIs.

Defensively, Gulden caught 1,090.1 MLB innings and maintained a .982 fielding percentage as a catcher. 

He had a 33% caught stealing percentage and gunned down 55 runners attempting to steal. 

After his playing career, Gulden didn't go into coaching or scouting like many of his peers.

Instead, he became a firefighter in his native Minnesota and retired as a captain. Gulden's son, Drew, also became a firefighter like his father. 

Q&A with Brad Gulden

Brad Gulden played in the major leagues as a catcher for parts of 7 seasons, appearing behind the plate in 163 MLB games.

He was teammates with baseball legends like Reggie Jackson, Pete Rose and Dave "The Cobra" Parker. 

I reached out to Mr. Gulden a few weeks ago to learn more about his career. 

He signed his 1980 Topps rookie card for me and answered some of my questions, which are shown below. 

Brad Gulden signed 1980 topps
1980 Topps Yankees Future Stars, signed by Brad Gulden

A transcript of my questions and Gulden's answers are as follows:

Question 1. I'm interested to learn about your favorite memory from your playing career. Will you please tell me about that?

Answer: Thank you for asking about my favorite memory. One of many: scouts had been watching me since 7th grade and when I was a SR (senior) before I graduated, Dale McReynolds Dodgers scout came to my hometown to let me know I had been drafted. I left right after graduation.

Question 2. In your opinion, who was the best pitcher you ever had the opportunity to catch? Why were they the best?

Answer: Caught so many great players! The standouts were:

Tommy John - starting pitcher

& Goose Gossage - Relief pitcher

They knew how to pitch & got a lot of batters out.

questions and answers with Brad Gulden

That's A Wrap!

Thanks for stopping by Catchers Home to read this article. 

We enjoyed learning about Brad Gulden and his career, and we hope you did too. Check out our "Pro Perspectives" page to find many other similar biographies and interviews with pro catchers that we've done.

If you'd like to get in touch with us, please go here to send a message or simply email scott (at) catchershome (dot) com.

Scott Perry is the owner and lead author at Catchers Home. He's a former baseball player, a current coach, a husband and a Dad. He remains as passionate about baseball today as he was as a kid.