George R. "Birdie" Tebbetts, 1912–1999: Raised in New Hampshire, “Birdie” Tebbetts was a precocious, intelligent, and athletic youngster who served as the team mascot for the “Nashua Millionaires,” an independent semi-professional team owned by the future New Hampshire Governor, Francis Parnell Murphy.
Murphy encouraged young Tebbetts to aim high. Tebbetts did just that, becoming an All-State High School quarterback and a star baseball catcher.
The Detroit Tigers noticed and offered him a full scholarship to attend any college in the country in order to hone his baseball skills. Tebbetts chose to attend Providence College, whose highly-successful baseball team was then coached by the legendary Jack Flynn.
At Providence, Tebbetts earned a degree in philosophy – a major not known to attract the typical catcher. Tebbetts led the Friars to back-to-back Eastern Regional baseball championships and an exhibition victory over the Boston Red Sox in 1934. He was ultimately named a collegiate All-American.
After graduation in 1934, the newly-minted philosopher joined the Tigers, who won two American League pennants and a World Series championship during his stay. First serving as the back-up to Hall of Fame catcher Mickey Cochrane, Tebbetts eventually inherited the starting role. In 1939, he led all American League catchers in assists and baserunners-caught-stealing.
In 1941, he was named to the American League All-Star Team and led all catchers in assists for the third consecutive time.
When World War II erupted, Tebbetts enlisted in the Army Air Corps and served for three years during the prime of his athletic life. After the war, Tebbetts returned to the Tigers and was later traded to the Boston Red Sox. There he was selected as an All-Star for the fourth time in 1949.
Tebbetts played his last professional game for the Cleveland Indians in 1952, and then went on to manage the Cincinnati Reds, the Milwaukee Braves, and the Cleveland Indians. After retiring from managing in 1966, Tebbetts scouted for the Mets, Yankees, Orioles, and Marlins from 1968 to 1997.
Tebbetts, the most prominent baseball player in history of Providence College and a loyal alumnus, died on March 24, 1999, at age 86. Ironically, his alma mater terminated its baseball program in the year of his death.
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