A 2023 interview with the former catcher
- Philadelphia Phillies, 1970
Life and Career Before the Majors
Michael Lynn Compton was born on August 15, 1944 in Stamford, Texas, which is a small town near Abilene.
He got a baseball scholarship to attend Sul Ross State University in Texas, which interestingly enough is where big leaguers Norm Cash and Larvell Blanks also went to college.
Compton played three years at Sul Ross State before signing with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1965 as an undrafted free agent. Of note, he went on to finish his bachelor's degree in business education at Sul Ross in 1966.
Between 1965 and 1968, Compton played 173 games at the single-A level for teams such as the Huron Phillies, the Eugene Emeralds and the Tidewater Tides.
In 1969 he played 86 games back in Eugene with the Emeralds, which by this time had become the Phillies triple-A club.
Going into the 1970 season, Compton earned a spot on the Phillies' opening day roster.
Compton’s 1970 MLB Season
Compton made his major league debut on April 17, 1970 wearing #7 for the Phillies. It was a day game against the New York Mets in front of a crowd of 5,951 at Shea Stadium.
He didn’t start but entered the game in the bottom of the eighth as a defensive replacement for Phils catcher Tim McCarver. The Mets went on to win 6 - 0, and Compton did not get an at bat.
Compton’s first career start - as well as his first MLB at bat - came on May 3, 1970 during the first game of a doubleheader against the San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park.
In his first at bat, Compton popped out to Giants catcher Dick Dietz in foul territory. He ended the game 0 for 3 with 3 putouts.
Compton also started the second game of the doubleheader, and that’s when he got his first major league hit. It came off of pitcher Frank Linzy in the top of the fifth, and his inaugural hit was a bunt single!
Two days later - May 5, 1970 - Compton hit his first MLB home run. It took place at Philadelphia’s Connie Mack Stadium against the San Diego Padres.
With Larry Bowa on first during the first inning, Compton hit a two-run homer off of San Diego pitcher Danny Coombs. That just so happened to be his first big league RBIs as well!
Compton went on to play 15 total games in May, 12 games in June, 4 games in July and 14 games in August. In between, he also played 27 games that year with the AAA Eugene Emeralds.
His final big league game came on August 30 in Philadelphia against the Atlanta Braves. Compton went 1 for 4 in that game with an RBI to help the Phils defeat the Braves 4 - 2.
Career After the 1970 Phillies
After Compton's 47 MLB games with the 1970 Phillies, he spent the remainder of his playing career in the minor leagues with triple-A Eugene.
Unfortunately, Compton had to hang up his spikes after 1973 due to the effects of a knee injury caused by a home plate collision.
During his lone MLB season in 1970, Compton collected a total of 18 hits in 110 at bats (.148) with a triple, a home run and 7 RBIs.
In 326.1 big league innings played behind the plate, Compton had a .986 fielding percentage and a 32% caught stealing percentage. He threw out a total of 11 runners attempting to steal.
After his playing days concluded, Compton had a very interesting life.
First, he went into coaching in the minor leagues. In particular, he managed the:
- Spartanburg Phillies in 1977
- Tampa Tarpons in 1978 - 1979
- Waterbury Reds in 1980
Compton also served as a catching coordinator and hitting coach in the Reds, Phillies and the Tampa Bay Rays systems. He owns two World Series rings from his time working with the Reds in 1990 and the Phillies in 2008.
In addition to being a coach, Compton can also lay claim to being an inventor.
While coaching in the Phillies system during the latter part of his career, he invented a device called the "Ball Hawg" which works to retrieve baseballs on the ground without having to bend over to pick them up. You can learn more on the Ball Hawg on his site.
In short, Compton has had a long and fascinating career associated with the game of baseball.
Q&A with Mike Compton
Mike Compton played as a catcher in the major leagues alongside teammates such as Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning and notable catcher, Tim McCarver.
Compton has decades of leadership experience across the major league and minor league levels, and as such, he has been an interesting catcher to learn more about.
I recently contacted Mr. Compton to get more insight about his time in baseball. He autographed my 1971 Topps and graciously took the time to answer my questions, which you can see below.
The transcript of those questions and answers with Mike Compton 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: I got the only hit in HOF Tom Seaver's second one-hit game. (note: this took place in Philly on May 15, 1970)
Question 2. In your opinion, who was the best pitcher you had the opportunity to catch? Why were they the best?
Answer: HOF pitcher Jim Bunning. He threw strikes with four pitches from a low three-quarter arm slot.
Question 3. After your time as a player ended, what did you do for a career?
Answer: Worked in professional baseball as a manager, hitting coach, catching coordinator, field coordinator and Senior Advisor Minor Leagues for 35 years.
That's A Wrap!
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