Q&A with Former MLB Catcher Jay “JW” Porter

 Pro Perspective: Jay "JW" Porter

Teams

  • St. Louis Browns, 1952; Detroit Tigers, 1955 - 1957; Cleveland Indians, 1958; Washington Senators, 1959; St. Louis Cardinals, 1959.

JW Porter with the Washington Senators

[Image Source: Canadian Baseball News]

Pro Perspective: Jay "JW" Porter

I'm sad to report that Mr. Porter passed away on October 11, 2020. The below post was written in 2018. RIP Mr. Porter

Career Overview

JW Porter (also known as Jay Porter) was born on January 17, 1933 in Shawnee, Oklahoma. JW went on to play high school ball at Oakland Technical High School, in Oakland, California.

He was signed in 1951 at 18 years old. Interestingly, the same scout signed him and future Hall of Famer Frank Robinson at the same time. 



JW broke into the big leagues one year later, in 1952, making his major league debut for the St. Louis Browns.

The Browns would go on to play one more season before moving to Baltimore and becoming the Baltimore Orioles. In fact, JW is the youngest player still living to have played for the Browns!  

JW Porter with the St Louis Browns

[image source]

He was traded to Detroit after the 1952 season, and spent the majority of his professional career playing for the Tigers. JW also spent time with the Indians, Washington Senators and the Cardinals between 1958 - 1959.

His best season came in 1957, while with Detroit. That year Porter appeared in 58 games for the Tigers and hit .250.

When playing for the Indians, he caught Hall of Fame pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm, who was a knuckleballer. It is reported that he used a first baseman's mitt to catch Hoyt because his knuckleball was so unpredictable!

In total, Porter played for 5 big league clubs over 6 MLB seasons. He appeared in 91 MLB games as a catcher, threw out 21 attempted base runners, and collected 124 hits, 8 of which were home runs.

Following the end of his playing days, JW moved into coaching. He would go on to coach at the minor league level for the Montreal Expos. JW always stayed close to Baseball, and later on served as an usher at the minor league and Spring Training facility Roger Dean Stadium. 

Former catcher JW Porter with Marlins Pitcher Jose Fernandez

Porter with the late Jose Fernandez, talking Baseball during Spring Training 2014 [image source]

 

Q&A with JW

JW is a former big league catcher with nearly 600 innings of MLB playing time behind the plate. He has played on the same team with legends like Satchel Paige, Al Kaline, Larry Doby, and Stan Musial.

I wrote JW a few weeks ago seeking his perspective on my key questions for catchers. He graciously signed an index card and a Baseball card for me and answered my questions, as you can read below. 

Autographed signed card from JW Porter

Like the others in the Pro Perspective series, I wanted to share JW's responses with the readers of Catchers Home with the hope that his feedback will help catchers wanting to improve their game. 

Here are his answers to my questions, as you can also read in the image below.

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

Answer: Just being there and the friendships I made was lucky enough to play with 14 Hall of Famers and broke the color line as I roomed with Larry Doby to become the first black-white pair to do so. 

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

Answer: Get to know your pitcher well enough so that he seldom has to shake you off. The best pitcher I ever caught was Warren Spahn and he never shook a catcher off.

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: Memory. Remember how you worked with your pitcher to get someone out and stay with that until the hitter wises up to what you are doing and then go the opposite.

Questions and answers from former catcher JW Porter

I like that JW focuses on the importance of the catcher's relationship with his pitcher. It's a perspective that we haven't seen a ton of yet in this series. The implication for catchers is to build on the working relationship with your pitcher. Become a team, work smartly, and communicate together well.

Thanks for Reading

We have many more Pro Perspectives ready to share with our readers, which we will continue to post in the coming months. Be on the lookout for them!