Saturday, October 24, 2009

1976 Topps #246 - Cesar Tovar

  • Cesar Tovar played for five teams from 1965-1976. For some reason I used to get him mixed up with Vada Pinson and Tony Oliva.
  • Tovar originally signed with the Cincinnati Reds and played in their system from 1959-1964. After the 1964 season Cesar was traded to the Minnesota Twins for Gerry Arrigo. He started the 1965 season with the Twins and was batting .308 in mid-May but he wasn't getting much playing time. Tovar was sent to AAA Denver to get more playing time. He batted .328 in Denver and was recalled in September. Altogehter during the '65 season Cesar played in 18 games and batted .200 in 25 at bats.
  • In 1966 Tovar played 2B, SS, LF, and CF for the Twins. He batted .260 in 134 games. Cesar's versatillity was a great asset. In 1967 he played in 164 games but he isn't listed as the regular starter at any position (he played six positions that year). He led the AL in at bats (649) and batted .267 with 98 runs scored. Tovar finished 7th in AL MVP voting. He got one first place vote, which kept Carl Yastrzemski from being a unanimous selection. Here is a July 1967 Baseball Digest article about Tovar.
  • In 1969 Tovar was the starting CF for the AL West Champion Twins. He batted .288 in 158 games, scored 98 runs, and hit a career-high 11 home runs. Cesar had his best season in 1970. He led the AL in doubles (36) and in triples (11). Tovar batted .300 in 161 games and had a career high in runs scored (120). He batted .385 in the 1970 American League Championship Series.
  • Tovar moved to LF in 1971 and led the AL in hits (204). He batted .311, which was a career-high, and also led the AL in caught stealing with 14. He usually was in double figures in both stolen bases and caught stealing. In 1972 Cesar was the starting RF for the Twins. His average slipped to .265 in 141 games. Tovar hit for the cycle on September 19. After the season he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for three players.
  • Cesar platooned with Mike Schmidt at 3B for the Phillies in 1973 and also filled in at 2B and in the outfield. He played in 97 games and batted .268 in 328 AB. After the 1973 season he was sold to the Texas Rangers. Tovar started in CF for the Rangers in 1974 and batted .292 in 138 games.
  • In 1975 Cesar returned to a "jack of all trades" role. He was sold to the Oakland A's on August 31 for the pennant drive. Altogether Tovar batted .256 in 121 games. The 1976 season was Tovar's last year in the majors. He was mostly a pinch hitter and did not play from June 1-August 14. Late in the season Cesar was released by the A's and signed by the New York Yankees. He ended up batting .167 in 42 games. Tovar was released after the season and retired.
  • During his career Tovar broke up five no-hit games.
  • Liked to face: Mickey Lolich (.419 in 86 AB); Tommy John (.333 in 78 AB); Mel Stottlemyre (.342 in 76 AB)
  • Hated to face: Catfish Hunter (.181 in 105 AB); Jim Palmer (.213 in 75 AB); Andy Messersmith (.227 in 66 AB); Dave McNally (.227 in 66 AB)
  • Cesar died of pancreatic cancer on July 14, 1994.


  1. Wow, I never realized he quite the stellar career for someone who never made it to an All-Star game! I never knew much about him...just the 9/22/68 thing.

  2. Bert Campaneris and Cookie Rojas were 2 other players of that era to play every position.

    Campy was an all-star shortstop, and may have played all 9 positions in 1 game (not sure about that).

    Rojas was primarily (and almost exclusively after 1966) a 2nd baseman. He did not play every position in the same game. He completed his cycle with a pitching appearance in early 1967.