Pro Perspective: Ed Ott
From Small Town Pennsylvania to Pittsburgh
Ed Ott was born on July 11, 1951 in Muncy, Pennsylvania. Muncy is a small town close to Williamsport, the home of the Little League World Series.
He played Little League and American Legion Baseball as a youngster. A few years later, Ed proved to be a solid all-around athlete at Muncy High School, where he excelled in particular at wrestling.
The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted Ott in the 23rd round of the MLB draft in 1971. He was drafted as a third baseman, then moved to the outfield, before finally taking up his position behind the plate while still in the minors.
Ed made his big league debut in 1974, and he would go back and forth between the majors and minors for the next two seasons.
He became a permanent fixture with the Pirates starting in the 1977 season, where he hit .264 over 104 games. One of Ed's best seasons came in 1979, where he hit .273/.314/.385 with 7 home runs, 51 RBIs, 155 total bases, and a 1.1 WAR.
He also played well in the 1979 post-season, helping the Pirates win the World Series in 7 games against the Baltimore Orioles.
Ott was traded to the California Angels early in the 1981 season. He had rotator cuff surgery at the end of the season, forcing him to miss the 1982 season. Ed played in the minors in 1983 and 1984, but never made it back to the big leagues.
From Player to Coach
After his playing career ended, Ed got into coaching. He managed minor league and independent league teams between 1985 - 1988. Ed then went back to the MLB to serve as a coach for five years on the Houston Astros.
After leaving the Astros, Ott continued coaching in the minor leagues, semi-pro and independent leagues, as well as some brief time on the Detroit Tigers' staff. He officially retired from coaching after the 2014 season.
Ed Ott was a tough, hard working no-nonsense player who earned a reputation for his rugged playing style.
For example, during a 1977 game against the Mets, Ott was punched by Felix Millan after a hard slide into second.
Ed responded by lifting Millan up into the air and slamming him to the ground, breaking Millan's collarbone. The injury ended Millan's MLB career - he was hauled off the field on a stretcher.
Over his 8 year MLB career, Ott batted .259 with 33 home runs over 567 career games. He was a good defensive catcher, finishing in the top 10 in the NL for caught stealing, caught stealing percentage and catcher putouts in two or more seasons.
Q&A with Ed
Ed Ott is a former big league catcher with over 4,100 innings of MLB playing time under his belt. He has played with many MLB all stars - names like Willie Stargell, Dave Parker, Bert Blyleven and Rod Carew.
I wrote Ed a few months ago looking to get his input on my normal questions for pro catchers. He kindly autographed my 1981 Fleer card and responded to my questions, as shown below.
Like all the others in the Pro Perspective series, I wanted to share Ed's responses with my readers in the hope that his input will help catchers interested in improving their game.
Here are Ed's responses to my questions, as you will also notice in the image below.
Question 1: What is your favorite memory from playing in the major leagues?
Answer: Being part of the 1979 World Series Pirates.
Question 2: What do you think is the most important skill that a catcher should have?
Answer: Knowing his pitching staff.
Question 3: If you could give one piece of advice to young catchers hoping to play at the next level, what would it be?
Answer: Keep your eyes open and your mouth shut.
Reading between the lines on Ed's last response - and knowing his personality - I think Ed is speaking to the importance of following your coaches and doing what they say.
I think his career also points to the fact that playing hard and having an awesome work ethic can take you far - even if you're not the most talented person on the field.
Lastly, knowing your pitching staff is important! Excel at building personal relationships, at having high Baseball IQ, and work on the intangibles of leadership and you will do well.
Thanks for Reading
We have several more Pro Perspectives ready to share, and we will continue releasing them in the coming weeks and months ahead. Stay on the lookout for them!