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Sal Yvars: 1924-2008
2008-12-11 15:18
by Bob Timmermann

Sal Yvars, a backup catcher for the Giants and Cardinals for eight major league seasons, passed away in Valhalla, NY yesterday at the age of 84.

While Yvars was not well known for his contributions on the field, he achieved notoriety long after he retired from the game when he confessed his complicity in a sign-stealing scheme employed by the New York Giants toward the end of the 1951 season.

From the New York Times, February 9, 2001:

''I was the guy,'' Yvars, 76, stated flatly, his wife, Ann, at his side. ''I relayed the signals to the batter. Now, if you're asking me if we could have won the pennant without stealing the signs, I would have to say, 'No way.' ''

Yvars explained it this way. A man sat in the center field clubhouse with a telescope nearly 500 feet away from home plate. When he spied the pitch signal between the catcher's legs, he pressed an electronic buzzer that was wired to the bullpen. The bullpen was in right field and in direct view of the batter. The man on the end of the bullpen bench was Sal Yvars. One buzz meant fastball, two meant off-speed.

''If it was a fastball, I would do nothing, sit still, maybe cross my legs,'' he said. ''If it was off-speed stuff I would toss a ball up and down.''


2008-12-11 19:16:41
1.   Bob Hendley
Didn't that team bring that scheme out west with them for a while?
2008-12-12 11:48:56
2.   das411
And this was before they invented multiple pitches too, correct Bob? Gee, if only someone would write a (really really quality) book about this...
2008-12-13 09:34:32
3.   Bob Hendley
Thanks das. Yep there it is in "The Echoing Green". Bad Herman Franks. Also noted a shadowy flag-waving character called Colletti.

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