Knuckleballer Charlie Hough put Texas catcher Geno Petralli in the record books on August 22, 1987. With Hough on the mound, Petralli committed four passed balls in one inning to tie a major-league record. Eight days later, Petralli let six of Hough's evasive deliveries get by him in one game to tie another record. Petralli's 35 passed balls that year -- 32 with Hough pitching -- were the most ever by a big-league catcher.
Though he caught Hough in nine more games in 1988 than he had in 1987, Petralli had only 20 passed balls -- still enough to lead the majors again. On the positive side, in 1987 Petralli became the first Rangers catcher to hit more than .300 (.302). Originally a switch-hitter, he batted from the left side most of the time, and abandoned the right side totally in 1988.
Most identified with the Rangers, Petralli spent seven years in the Blue Jays and Indians organizations before he signed with Texas in May 1985. He often worked for Dr. Pepper in Sacramento during the offseason to make ends meet.
The promotion of Ivan Rodriguez in 1991 signaled the end of Petralli's tenure as the Rangers' primary backstop. After two years as I-Rod's backup, he was released after the Rangers looked to veteran Mike Scioscia -- who hadn't played in over a year -- to fill the role. "[The Rangers] made it clear that Mike was their guy," the snubbed catcher said after signing with the Padres in March 1994. "I would have thought they would have shown a little more faith in me." It was a moot point, as neither Scioscia nor Petralli ever appeared in a major-league game again.
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FROM THE BASEBALL CHRONOLOGY
»August 30, 1987:
With knuckleballer Charlie Hough on the mound, Rangers catcher Geno Petralli ties the major-league record by allowing six passed balls in a 7-0 loss to Detroit. Eight days earlier Petralli had five passed balls in an 8-6 win over Chicago, also with Hough pitching.
»May 12, 1996:
Houston C Jerry Goff, brought up on May 8th, makes his presence felt by allowing a ML record-tying six passed balls in a 7–6 loss to Montreal. Five of the Expos' runs are unearned. Goff hits a homer in the 2nd, in his first at bat this year, but allows two passed balls in the 1st, 3rd and 4th innings. Montreal SS Mark Grudzielanek gets five singles to lead the Expos. Goff joins Harry Vickers (1902) and Geno Petralli (1987) in the record books.