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About Mike Lavalliere

Michael Eugene "Mike" LaValliere (born August 18, 1960 in Charlotte, North Carolina), nicknamed Spanky, is a former catcher in Major League Baseball whose 12-year Major league career included tenures in both the National and American Leagues. He batted left-handed but threw right-handed.

Signed by the Philadelphia Phillies as an amateur free agent in 1981, LaValliere started out as a third baseman but was converted to catcher in 1982. He was sent to the St. Louis Cardinals during the 1984 season as part of a conditional deal. He ultimately signed with the Cards as a free agent in 1985.

In spring training of the 1987 season, LaValliere was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates alongside Andy Van Slyke and Mike Dunne in exchange for fellow catcher Tony Pena. Excellent at throwing out potential base stealers, he won a Gold Glove award in 1987. Spanky and Van Slyke would later become stalwarts on the hugely successful Pirates teams of the early 1990s, when Pittsburgh went to three consecutive National League Championship Series from 1990-1992. Unfortunately for the Pirates, they lost in all three of their NLCS appearances, in 1990 to the eventual World champion Cincinnati Reds and in 1991 and 1992 to the Atlanta Braves. In the 1992 NLCS, LaValliere was involved in the famous final play of Game 7, as Atlanta first baseman Sid Bream Slid beneath his tag to score the Series-winning run for the Braves.

During the 1993 season, LaValliere signed a contract with the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox won the American League West division title, but lost in the ALCS to the eventual World champion Toronto Blue Jays. Spanky would spend two more seasons in Chicago before retiring. Mike was invited to Major League Spring Training by Pittsburgh Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon as a special catching instructor from 2001-2005.

Career highlights and awards
1987 Gold Glove Award (NL C)
1986 - Member of Baseball America's N.L. Rookie All Star Team
1988 - Named to Sporting News Post-season All-Star Team
1988 - N.L. Player of the Week 4/18 to 4/24
1985 - First Major League Hit off Rick Rhoden on 4/14 @ Three Rivers Stadium
1986 - Led all Major League catchers with fewest passed balls (1)
1987 - Led all Major League catchers with 43% average in throwing out base runners
1991 - Led all Major League catchers in fielding percentage (.998) one error in 611 chances