from my sketchbook: bo díaz

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Have we got what it takes to advance? Did we peak too soon?
After bouncing between the minor leagues and the bigs, Bo Díaz was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in the ’81 off-season. With the departure of All-Star catcher Bob Boone, Bo became the Phillies starting backstop. His game-calling skills helped Phils ace Steve Carlton become the league’s only twenty game winner in 1982. Bo finished the season with offensive and defensive stats ranking him second among National League catchers, behind the Expos’ Gary Carter.

Early in the ’83 season, Bo accomplished a feat only performed by eleven other players in baseball history. With the Phillies down 9-6 in the bottom of the ninth with two outs, Bo hit a game-winning grand slam. He ended the season catching Steve Carlton’s 300th career win. In the final week of the 1983 regular season, Bo hit .360 (including a game in which he went 5 for 5), helping the Phillies to the post-season. Despite losing their World Series bid to the Baltimore Orioles, Bo was the Phillies’ leading hitter.

Knee problems and two surgeries later, Bo was traded to the Cincinnati Reds where, once again he became the starting catcher. In one game against San Francisco, Bo caught opposing second baseman Robby Thompson stealing four times, a first-time occurrence in Major League history.

Bo continued for as long as he could, but several more knee surgeries and a shoulder injury forced him to retire on July 9, 1989 at the age of 36.

For nearly twenty years, Bo played winter baseball in his native Venezuela for the Leones del Caracas.  In 1973, 20-year-old Bo caught a no-hitter thrown by pitcher Urbano Lugo. Thirteen years later, he was behind the plate for a no-hitter hurled by Lugo’s son, Urbano Jr.

In November 1990, Bo was at his home in Caracas, adjusting the position of a large satillite dish on the roof. The dish accidentally tipped over and Bo was crushed to death beneath its weight.




  1. I remember sitting in my car in the parking lot of Cherries in Croydon listening to that grand slam. i think it was against the Mets. Thanks for bringing up that great memory!

  2. I was driving back to drexel university on t.hat grand slam eveninh evening. Listening to the mets and phillies. And we decided to go down to the. vet and get into the game went down and sat very close to the field
    . My girlfriends jealous because she wa.s not the game. Great reminder of a story I told many times.

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