Joseph William Nolan (born May 12, 1951) is an American former professional baseball player whose career extended from 1969 through 1985. A catcher, Nolan spent all or parts of 11 seasons in the Major Leagues (MLB), appearing in 621 games played with the New York Mets (1972), Atlanta Braves (1975, 1977–1980), Cincinnati Reds (1980–1981) and Baltimore Orioles (1982–1985). Nolan batted left-handed and threw right-handed. He stood 5 feet 11 inches (1.80 m) tall and weighed 175 pounds (79 kg).
Selected in the second round of the 1969 Major League Baseball Draft, he turned down a football scholarship at the University of Missouri to sign with the Mets. He is one of only a few Major League catchers to have worn glasses.
During the strike-shortened 1981 season, Nolan supplanted Hall of Famer Johnny Bench as the Reds' regular catcher. Bench, then 33, had played 13 consecutive years as Cincinnati's starting backstop, but he shifted to first base in 1981 and only caught in seven games that season. (Bench would catch in only six more games in 1982–1983 as his career wound down.) Nolan started 62 games behind the plate in 1981 (the Reds played in 108 games total), and appeared in 81 games as a receiver. He batted a career-high .309 with 73 hits. The following spring, he was traded to the Orioles, where he played 3½ seasons and finished his pro career.
He was the backup catcher to Rick Dempsey when the Orioles won the 1983 World Series. He appeared in two games against the Philadelphia Phillies and drew a base on balls in three plate appearances.
- ^ Klingaman, Mike. "Catching up with...former Oriole Joe Nolan," The Toy Department (The Baltimore Sun sports blog), Sunday, April 24, 2011.
By Dean Hanley
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