Tuesday, August 4, 2009

1976 Topps #165 - Gene Tenace

  • Fury Gene Tenace (born Fiore Geno Tennaci) played from 1969-1983. Gene played catcher and first base and was a great power and on-base guy. He had a lifetime on base percentage of .388. It's interesting that Topps chose to put a cartoon about on-base percentage on Gene's card.
  • Tenace was drafted by the Kansas City A's in 1965 and played in the minors from 1965-1968. In 1969 he bounced between the A's and AAA. Gene batted .158 in 40 at bats for the A's in 1969. Tenace started the 1970 season in AAA, played one game for the A's in July, then came back to the majors to stay on August 13. He batted .305 with seven home runs in 105 at bats in 1970.
  • Gene was the backup for Dave Duncan in 1971. He batted .274 with seven homers in 65 games. Tenace backed up Duncan again in 1972 and also played some OF, 1B, 2B, and 3B. His offensive numbers were down (.225 with five homers in 82 games). Gene drove in the winning run in game 5 of the 1972 AL Championship series and then hit four homers in the World Series. Gene was the 1972 World Series MVP. Here is a Sports Illustrated article from April 1973 about Gene.
  • Tenace was given the regular first baseman's job in 1973 and had a nice year. He batted .259 with 24 homers, 84 RBI, and 101 walks and helped the A's to their second consecutive world championship. It was the first of six seasons in which he would walk over 100 times. Gene split time between 1B and catcher in 1974. His batting average was down (.211), but he hit 26 homers and walked 110 times as the A's won their third consecutive world championship.
  • In 1975 Tenace was named to his only AL All Star team (he was the starting catcher). He batted .255 with 29 homers and 106 walks. Gene was out for about five weeks with an injury in 1976. His numbers were down (81 walks, 22 homers) as he again split time between catcher and first base.
  • After the 1976 season Gene left the A's and signed with the San Diego Padres as a free agent. His home run numbers dropped (15) due to playing in a larger ballpark, but he had a career high in walks (125) in 1977. He also led the NL in hit by pitch with 13. Gene had similar seasons in 1979, 1979, and 1980.
  • After the 1980 season Gene was traded with Rollie Fingers and some other guys to the St. Louis Cardinals for Terry Kennedy and some other guys. He split time behind the plate with Darrell Porter in 1981 and 1982. He didn't play much in those two years (58 games in '81 and 66 games in '82), but his on base percentages in both years were above .400. He appeared in the '82 World Series but was hitless in six at bats.
  • Gene singed with the Pittsburgh Pirates as a free agent after the 1982 season and played one year. He batted .177 in 62 at bats and was released during spring training in 1984.
  • He became a coach after his playing career. He spent several years as a member of Cito Gaston's staff in Toronto and was the Blue Jays' interim manager for 33 games when Gaston suffered a herniated disc in 1991. After leaving Toronto Gene was a hitting instructor in the Cardinals' organization. When Gaston was rehired in 2008 Tenace was brought back as hitting coach. He's still the hitting coach now. It's interesting that Gene espouses a more aggressive approach at the plate since he was known as a patient hitter in his playing days.


  1. One of my favorite cards from that year. I didn't know "Fury" was short for/or an Americanization of an Italian name.

  2. I didn't know about the Italian thing either. I just figured he had a cool first name.