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John David Wathan (/ˈwɒθən/; born October 4, 1949) is a former Major League Baseball catcher and manager for the Kansas City Royals. In 1982, he stole 36 bases,[1] breaking the single-season record for catchers set by Ray Schalk in 1916 despite his suffering a fractured ankle earlier in the season.[2]

John Wathan
Catcher / Manager
Born: (1949-10-04) October 4, 1949 (age 69)
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
May 26, 1976, for the Kansas City Royals
Last MLB appearance
October 6, 1985, for the Kansas City Royals
MLB statistics
Batting average.262
Home runs21
Runs batted in261
Managerial record326–320
Winning %.505
As player

As manager

Career highlights and awards

Wathan, nicknamed "The Duke" for his dead-on impersonations of John Wayne, was drafted in the first round, fourth overall in the 1971 MLB Draft from the University of San Diego, where he played college baseball for the Toreros in 1968–70.[3]

Wathan played ten seasons with the Royals from 1976 to 1985 where he played in 860 games, averaging a career .262 batting average with 21 home runs and 261 RBIs. Wathan has his best season in 1980 in which he played in 126 games, and had a .305 batting average.

After he retired, Wathan coached for the Royals in 1986 before becoming the manager of Kansas City's AAA Omaha Royals farm club and he was promoted manager for the big-league Royals on August 28, 1987. He managed five seasons in Kansas City, having two winning seasons in 1988 and 1989 and finishing second in the American League West both times. He was fired early in the 1991 season after a 15–22 start.[4]

In 1992, Wathan began the season as the third-base coach of the California Angels, but he was named acting manager midway through the campaign when Buck Rodgers was badly hurt in a bus accident and took a medical leave of absence. Wathan led the Angels to a 39–50 record until Rodgers was well enough to return. He spent 1994 as a Boston Red Sox coach, worked as a color analyst on Royals telecasts in 1996 and 1997, and has worked as a scout and minor league instructor for a number of organizations since. In 2006-07, Wathan was a roving baserunning and bunting instructor in Kansas City's farm system, and in 2008 he served the Royals as a special assistant to the director of player development.

Two of John's sons, Derek and Dusty, played professional baseball. Derek played minor league baseball from 1998 to 2008, while Dusty played briefly for the Royals in 2002 and is the current third-base coach of the Philadelphia Phillies.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ A catcher with the soul of a thief
  2. ^ Royals' Wathan out with ankle injury
  3. ^ "University of San Diego Baseball Players Who Made it to a Major League Baseball Team". Archived from the original on 18 February 2007. Retrieved 29 July 2012.
  4. ^ Royals fire John Wathan

External linksEdit