Our interview in 2023 with the former catcher
- Texas Rangers, 1978 - 1979
Wisconsin Born and Bred
Gregory John Mahlberg was born on August 8, 1952 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
At this time, the Brewers were not yet a franchise.
Instead, the Milwaukee Braves ruled the city in the 50s.
Greg grew up and went to Wisconsin Lutheran High School, which was in Milwaukee and was the same school that 1953 AL Rookie of the Year Harvey Kuenn attended.
Mahlberg was a two-sport athlete and played football and baseball in high school.
After graduation Greg went to the University of Wisconsin in Madison and played baseball for the Badgers. He would eventually graduate with a degree in Adaptive Physical Education.
On June 22, 1973, Greg was selected out of college by the Texas Rangers as an undrafted free agent.
He began his pro career later that season with the rookie league GCL Rangers.
Greg then spent 100 games at single-A in 1974, 111 games at double-A in 1975, and a combined 145 games at triple-A between 1976 and 1977.
He was invited to spring training with the Rangers in 1978, but ended up spending most of the '78 season with the triple-A Tucson Turos.
Late in the Rangers' regular season, Mahlberg received the long awaited call up to the big leagues.
Brief Time in the Majors
Greg Mahlberg made his major league debut for the Rangers on September 24, 1978. It was a day game against the Seattle Mariners in front of a crowd of 6,955 at Arlington Stadium.
Mahlberg entered the game in the sixth inning as a replacement for catcher John Ellis.
His first at that came in the seventh against pitcher Enrique Romo, and Greg popped out to second.
The Rangers ended the game with a 4 - 3 win, and it would be Mahlberg's only MLB game and at bat in 1978.
His next season would also be spent primarily with triple-A Tucson. However, in early September of 1979 Greg was called back up to the majors.
His first game back in the big leagues that year was on September 1, 1979 against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
Greg was in the starting lineup behind the plate, with nearly 29,000 fans in the stands.
In the fifth inning against Boston pitcher Bob Stanley, Mahlberg earned his first big league hit with a single to left field. He would go on to score, and the Rangers eventually defeated the Red Sox 5 - 4.
Greg started the next four games in a row at catcher for the Rangers.
On September 3, he hit his first MLB home run against the Seattle Mariners at the Kingdome.
It was a solo shot in the seventh inning off pitcher Floyd Bannister.
Greg played in two more games for Texas (September 12th and 30th), but didn't get any more hits. Unfortunately, that would mark the end of his major league career.
Career After The Big Leagues
Mahlberg spent the entire 1980 season with the Charleston Charlies, the Rangers' new triple-A affiliate.
In the offseason, he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds organization and subsequently spent the 1981 season with the Reds' triple-A club, the Indianapolis Indians. However, he was plagued by injuries though by this time.
In 1982, Greg joined the coaching staff of the Lynn Sailors, the double-A affiliate for the Seattle Mariners. He also appeared in two games for the Sailors that season as a player, which marked the end of his playing career.
Greg then remained in the game as a longtime manager, coach, roving instructor, and player personnel director in the minor leagues for the Mariners, Cubs, Dodgers, and Devil Rays' organizations.
Some of the minor league clubs he led throughout the 80’s and 90’s included the Charleston Wheelers, the San Bernardino Spirit, the Salinas Spurs, the Peoria Chiefs and the Geneva Cubs.
Q&A with Greg Mahlberg
Greg played pro baseball for many years across the minors and majors. During this time he was teammates with all stars like Al Oliver, Sparky Lyle and Jim Sundberg.
Though Greg's time in the big leagues was brief, he can take pride in the fact that he got to catch in the MLB. That's something many set out to do, but few ever get to.
I wrote Greg recently and he took the time to sign his rookie card for me and answer a few questions about his career.
The feedback he gave is summarized below.
Question 1: What is your favorite memory from your playing career?
Answer: First hit at Fenway
(My note: this occurred on September 1, 1979. See details above.)
Question 2: In your opinion, who was the best pitcher you ever had the opportunity to catch? What made them the best?
Answer: Fergie Jenkins.
(My note: Fergie Jenkins is a Hall of Famer who played with Greg as a member of the 1978 and 1979 Texas Rangers.)
Question 3: After your time as a player ended, what did you do next in your career?
Answer: Manage & coach.
(My note: His minor league coaching career is described above.)
Thanks for Reading
It's a favorite of ours to connect with former big league catchers like Greg Mahlberg.
We write about these catchers and share feedback they give us in our series called Pro Perspectives. Check it out if you're interested in reading more like this.
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