Friday, October 7, 2022

Former Mets catcher, four-time All-Star, John Stearns dies at age 71

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Longtime New York Mets catcher and four-time All-Star John Stearns died Thursday night in his hometown of Denver, Colorado, following a long battle with cancer, the team announced Friday. He was 71. Stearns appeared at the team’s Old Timers’ Day ceremony on Aug. 27.

“No one played the game with more spirit or determination than John Stearns,” Mets president Sandy Alderson said in a statement. “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.”

Originally selected by the Phillies with the No. 2 overall pick in the 1973 amateur draft, Stearns was traded to the Mets in a six-player trade that most notably sent Tug McGraw to Philadelphia in Dec. 1974. He played his first full season in the big leagues in 1977 and had a productive six-year peak from 1977-82, hitting .265/.345/.382 in over 700 games. Stearns was an All-Star in 1977, 1979, 1980, and 1982. Injuries ended his career soon thereafter.

Stearns enjoyed a long second phase of his career as a scout, coach, and manager in the Mets, Brewers, Yankees, Blue Jays, Reds, Nationals, and Mariners organizations. He served as Yankees bullpen coach in 1989, Mets bench coach in 2000, and Mets third base coach in 2001 in addition to a bevy of minor-league assignments. Stearns also did some broadcast work with ESPN.

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

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