Q&A With Former MLB Catcher and Manager John Wathan

 Pro Perspective: John Wathan

John Wathan, catcher with the Kansas City Royals

From the West Coast to the Mid West

John Wathan was born in 1949 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, though he grew up in San Diego, California. He played Baseball, Football and Basketball in high school, then got a baseball scholarship to play at the University of San Diego.  

Wathan was drafted in 1971 by the Kansas City Royals in the first round with the fourth overall pick. He stood 6 ft 2 in tall, weighed 205 pounds, and had a potent combination of strength, size, and significant speed, especially considering he was a catcher!

He made his major league debut for the Royals in 1976 and he would go on to play 10 seasons in the big leagues, culminating with Kansas City's 1985 World Series victory. Wathan spent his entire big league career with the Royals. 

Over the course of his MLB career John appeared in 860 total games, 572 of which were played as a catcher. He collected 656 hits, 21 home runs, and maintained a lifetime average of .262.

Wathan is perhaps most famous for stealing 36 bases in 1982, setting the modern day MLB record for most stolen bases in a season by a catcher.

(source: Getty Images)

After his retirement, John immediately began coaching for the Royals. He was quickly promoted to Kansas City's manager late in the 1987 season. He would go on to manage the Royals from 1987 - 1991, and the California Angels in 1992. 

In 1994, he briefly worked as a coach for the Red Sox. Afterwards, he would work in various other positions (TV analyst, scout, instructor, and more) for various clubs, but mostly with the Royals.

Q&A with John Wathan

John is a World Series winning - and a record setting - catcher with 15+ years of experience playing and managing in the major leagues.

I wanted to get his input to the three questions that I regularly ask big league catchers. So I wrote John a letter a few weeks back, and he kindly wrote me back. He signed my card and answered my three questions, which are shown below: 

John Wathan autograph

Question 1: What is your favorite memory from playing in the major leagues?

Answer: Winning the World Series in 1985. 

Question 2: What do you think is the most important skill that a catcher should have?

Answer: The ability to call a good game with his pitcher.

Question 3: If you could give one piece of advice to catchers hoping to make it to the next level, what would it be?

Answer: Be passionate about it and work hard always. 

John Wathan letter, Q&A

I like that John's response focuses on intangibles; namely, the value in calling games, the value of having passion, and of hard work. Sure, things like strength, speed, having a strong throwing arm - they are all important and have their place. 

But to stand out from the pack you have to master the intangibles associated with being the field leader. You have to make wise decisions and continually give it your all.

Great advice for both Baseball and Fastpitch Softball catchers looking to advance to the next level.  

Thanks for Reading

We will continue to crank out more Pro Perspectives in the coming weeks, so be on the lookout!

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.