Today’s Leading Off with True Blue LA podcast is a Dodgers rewind episode, as we remember Jeff Torborg, the backup Dodgers catcher in the 1960s known for catching no-hitters in his career.
The Dodgers signed Torborg out of Rutgers for a $100,000 bonus in 1963, which necessitated him being on the big league roster in 1964, his second season. After essentially an apprentice year as a rookie, Torborg settled in to a steady backup role behind for six more seasons in Los Angeles, mostly behind John Roseboro.
Torborg was behind the plate for Sandy Koufax’s perfect game in 1965, the fourth and final no-hitter of Koufax’s career. Torborg was catching for the Angels in 1973 when Nolan Ryan threw his first (of seven!) career no-hitters. In between, Torborg caught Bill Singer’s no-hitter for the Dodgers in 1970.
Per Stan Grosshandler at SABR, Torborg and Gus Triandos are the only two catchers to catch no-hitters in each league.
Torborg was definitely known more for his prowess behind the plate than at it during his major league career, posting just a 57 OPS+ and described in one season preview as having “a feathery bat.” But he was good enough to stick in the majors for 10 seasons, then went on to manage five different teams.
In between managing stints in New York and Montreal, Torborg did some broadcasting, including sitting beside Vin Scully as analyst for CBS Radio during the World Series from 1995-97.
Episode link (time: 20:40)