John Stearns, former MLB catcher, dies at 71

CBS Sports reports that John Stearns, the former Major League Baseball (MLB) All-Star catcher, has died at the age of 71. 

Stearns’s passing was announced on Friday by his former team, the New York Mets.

According to the Mets, Stearns passed away on Thursday evening at his home in Denver, Colorado. The team further revealed that Stearns’s passing followed a long bout with cancer.

Who was he?

Stearns first entered the MLB in the early 1970s. During the 1973 amateur draft, he was the No. 2 overall pick, which went to the Philadelphia, Phillies.

Stearns, though, didn’t see much action with the Phillies. He only appeared in just one game before being traded to the Mets during the 1974 season. But, it was with the Mets that things really took off for Stearns.

He would spend the remaining years of his 11-year MLB career with the Mets, appearing in 809 games. Stearns was known as a complete catcher, finishing his career with 46 home runs, 312 RBIs, and a .260 batting average. He also earned four All-Star appearances: 1977, 1979, 1980, and 1982.

It was injuries that put an end to Stearns’s playing career. But, he would go on to be a scout, coach, and manager for several teams for many years.

One of Stearns’s last public appearances was at an Old Timers’ Day event that the Mets held in late August.

Tributes

The Mets have led the way in offering a tribute to Stearns.

Mets president Sandy Alderson has stated:

No one played the game with more spirit or determination than John Stearns. He literally willed himself to attend Old Timers’ Day last month so he could visit friends and old teammates. Despite his illness, he even managed to step into the batting cage to take a few swings. His nickname, ‘Bad Dude’ couldn’t have been more appropriate. A four-time All-Star, John was one of the most complete catchers in Mets history. Our thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family.

Tributes have also come from many of Stearns’s fellow MLB players, including former Mets pitcher Ed Lynch, who said, “we played a different game back then and Dude was really good at playing it.”

Stearns is survived by his son, Justin, his brothers, Richard and William, and his sister, Carla.

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