December 3 – Happy Birthday Damon Berryhill
There are baseball names you don’t ever forget. One that has always stuck with me is Damon Berryhill. He was born in South Laguna, CA on December 3, 1963 and was the Cubs’ first round draft pick and the fourth player chosen overall in Baseball’s 1984 Amateur Draft. Berryhill was a catcher and after a brief call-up by the Cubs in 1987, Chicago manager Don Zimmer made him his starter in 1988, replacing Jody Davis. Barryhill responded with a solid rookie season. He threw out 41% of the runners attempting to steal against him that season and hit .259. His overall performance was good enough to get him a sixth-place finish in that year’s NL ROY balloting. That .259 average would be the highest figure Barryhill would ever achieve during his nine seasons in the senior circuit. The Cubbies traded him to the Braves in 1991. He spent two OK seasons in Atlanta, the highlight of which was his three-run home run in Game 1 of the 1992 World Series versus the Blue Jays.
Barryhill became a free agent in 1993 and signed with the Red Sox. Boston had just lost their starting catcher, Tony Pena to free agency and manager Butch Hobson made Damon his primary catcher in 1994. The switch-hitting receiver had one of his best seasons offensively in Beantown, hitting a career-high .267 but one of his worst defensively. Boston’s front office chose not to re-sign him and he ended up playing for the Reds in 1995. Meanwhile, Mike Macfarlane took over as starting catcher for the Red Sox after Berryhill.