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Former major league catcher Jim Pagliaroni dies at 72

April 7, 2010 |  3:02 pm

Jim Pagliaroni, 72, a former major league catcher who was behind home plate for Jim "Catfish" Hunter’s perfect game with the Oakland A’s in 1968, died April 3 at his home in Grass Valley, Calif. He had cancer and heart problems.

The Boston Red Sox held a moment of silence in his honor before Tuesday's game at Fenway Park.

Pagliaroni played for the Red Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates, Oakland A’s and the expansion Seattle Pilots in 11 seasons. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Pagliaroni finished with a .252 batting average and had only 41 errors overall and a .991 fielding average. In 1962 he came close to catching a perfect game with the Red Sox, when pitcher Bill Monbouquette gave up no hits and allowed only a walk against the Chicago White Sox.

Born Dec. 8, 1937, in Dearborn, Mich., Pagliaroni grew up in Long Beach and attended Wilson High School there. He was drafted in 1955 by the Red Sox, who gave him a bonus contract of $50,000. But he was called to serve in the Army from 1956 to 1958, then played his first full season in the majors in 1960.

He finished his baseball career with the Pilots in 1969, a season that teammate Jim Bouton immortalized in his brazen nonfiction account, "Ball Four."

Pagliaroni later became an executive with a food distribution company in the western United States. He also raised funds for the ALS Foundation to help honor Hunter, who died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, in 1999.

-- Claire Noland