|Full Name: Matthew Lovick Walbeck
Bats: Both Throws: Right
Weight: 195 lbs.
Born: Oct 02, 1969 in Sacramento, CA
Major League Debut: Apr 07, 1993
|CAREER BATTING STATISTICS|
|CAREER FIELDING STATISTICS|
Matt Walbeck holds the distinction of having Stole Home, which is a rare feat for a catcher. In the past thirty years less than 20 catchers have done it out of the 700 successful scoring thefts. In Matt's own words describing the 4/11/1997 event against the White Sox at Detroit, he said, "There was a runner [Damion Easley] on first who got picked off by the pitcher [Carlos Castillo] with two outs. First baseman Frank Thomas was chasing the base runner [Easley] towards second and I took off for home and beat Thomas' throw to catcher Ron Karkovice. Not really a planned play, I just happened to be in the right spot at the right time." Detroit beat Chicago 5-4 in that game and Matt's heads-up scoring theft in the 6th inning was the margin of victory. Behind the plate Matt successfully tagged-out three steals of home attempts: in 1996 (Chris Stynes) and in 1999 (Frank Catalano and Juan Gonzalez).
Selected by the Chicago Cubs in the eighth round of the 1987 free-agent draft.
Acquired: Traded by the Minnesota Twins to Detroit Tigers on Dec. 11, 1996.
Acquired: Traded by the Detroit Tigers to the Anaheim Angels on Nov. 20, 1997.
Granted: Free Agency by the Anaheim Angels on Nov. 1, 2000.
Transaction: Signed by the Cincinnati Reds on Feb. 9, 2001, Contract purchased by the Philadelphia Phillies on Jul. 11, 2001; and granted Free Agency by the Phillies on Oct. 8, 2001
Transaction: Signed by the San Diego Padres on Jan. 2, 2002; Traded to the Detroit Tigers on Mar. 24, 2002; Granted Free Agency by Detroit on Oct. 30, 2002; Signed by Detroit on Dec. 18, 2002
While spending the majority of the season at AAA (Scranton-Wilkes-Barre) Matt batted .298 and had a whopping .355 OBP and a .418 Slugging Average for the Phillies' affiliate.
Posted 46 Runs-Batted-In (RBI) for the Angels.
Had an On-Base-Percentage (OBP) greater than .300 for three straight seasons
Had 21 at-bat hitless-streak June 1-11 ... Career-high nine game hit-streak, going 16-37 (.432) with nine RBI, September 18-27 ... Established career-highs in batting, games, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, triples, RBI, walks, strikeouts and stolen bases.
Caught Scott Erickson's no-hitter on April 27 vs. California .... First homer as a Twin was a grand slam off Milwaukee's Jesse Orosco on May 4 ... Threw out 28-of-90 basestealers.
Made Chicago's roster out of spring training ... Started behind the plate in his major league debut April 7 and tied the game in the ninth inning with his first hit, an RBI single off Atlanta's Kent Mercker ... Hit his first big league homer April 18, off Philadelphia's Jose DeLeon ... Was optioned to Class AAA Iowa after hitting .333 in five games ... Started four games with the Cubs after his Sept. 17 recall.
Matt set the American Association record for catchers' FIELDING PERCENTAGE with .9982174 when in 79 games he had 496 Putouts, 64 Assists and only 1 Error.
Peoria Journal Star
May 4, 2004 By Ryan Ori
PEORIA - Matt Walbeck is back where he got a leg up on his playing career.
As the first-year manager for the West Michigan Whitecaps, Walbeck returns for the first time to Peoria.
It was here that the former Peoria Chief suffered a serious knee injury. But he used the down time to teach himself to switch hit and pave the way for a big-league catching career that included major-league action in at least parts of the past 11 seasons.
Now he's starting the second phase of his baseball life.
Walbeck was a 19-year-old Chicago Cubs prospect for the Chiefs when a 1989 collision at the plate with Clinton runner Jeff Branson tore both major ligaments in his knee.
"I learned that the game can end at any time and not to take anything for granted health-wise," said Walbeck, now 33. "It toughened me
up and taught me about hard work. I really had to be determined to presevere through the injury.
"A lot of people never thought I'd come back. I did, and I caught almost 10 years in the big leagues."
While spending the next year rehabbing the injury, Walbeck taught himself to hit left-handed in the batting cage at his home and returned to Peoria toward the end of the 1990 season.
Switch-hitting catchers are rare. That skill, combined with defensive skills, allowed Walbeck to break into the big leagues with the Cubs in 1993 and last through last season, with stops in Minnesota, Anaheim, Philadelphia and a pair of tours with Detroit.
He hit .233 with 28 home runs and 208 RBIs.
On the last day of the Tigers' 2003 season, general manager Dave Dombrowski called Walbeck to manager Alan Trammell's office to offer him a minor-league managing job.
Walbeck decided he was ready to retire as a player and put to use managing knowledge he learned while playing for the likes of Tom Kelly, Mike Scioscia and Buddy Bell.
In an unusually quick move from playing to full-season managing, Walbeck replaced the retired Phil Regan at West Michigan.
Walbeck credits Tigers minor league field coordinator Glenn Ezell for patiently helping him progress.
"I know I make a lot of mistakes," Walbeck said. "That's to be expected. As a player, you don't really understand what goes on with the coaches and managers. There's a lot of things I thought I knew that I don't.
"As a player you think you have all the answers. Then you come over here and you don't know anything."
The Whitecaps arrived Moday at O'Brien Field with an 8-15 record, but Walbeck is excited about his long-term prospects in the dugout.
"I enjoy learning new things and I enjoy the game of baseball," Walbeck said. "To be able to see it from the other side is just fascinating. It's perfect for me right now."