"Lieby" Stands Alone
Sixteen years after being drafted by the Phillies, Mike Liberthal stands alone among Phillies catchers. “Lieby” on Friday night caught his 1,125th game, breaking the Phillies all-time record set by Red Dooin during his 1902-14 career.
Lieberthal made his major league debut on June 30, 1994, getting a single off Pedro Astacio at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. He was recalled from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre the day before when Darren Daulton went on the disabled list after fracturing his right clavicle.
“Lieby” was an outstanding high school catcher at Westlake High School in LA. He was heavily scouted by all clubs, despite his size. Back then he was around 155 pounds, pretty slim for a 6-foot frame. Many questioned that he could hold up as a catcher.
Several Phillies scouts followed Lieberthal, including David Sirak. He filed the following report on February 19, 1990:
“Slim-bodied player with growth potential. Will probably get much stronger. During the off-season, played nearly every day with one team or another.
“Outstanding receiver and has a very strong throwing arm. Has very good release and consistently blocks balls in the dirt. Quite a competitor.
“Will be watched and written about more than any other high school kid in my area this coming season. Many have called him a first rounder. I saw this too on 2/14 when he hit a ball almost 500 feet and saw aggressive play in him that I had never seen before.
“Has verbally committed to Arizona State but his father has told me time and again that his son will turn pro. I think you could be looking at a future All-Star.”
Sirak was correct. Lieberthal became a two-time All-Star. All the critics who questioned his size, were wrong. His record stands for itself in Phillies history.