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Saturday, March 16, 2024

Sal Butera made bigs as player, then helped others there

Sal Butera 1990 Osceola Astros card

Still a young minor league manager in 1991, Osceola skipper Sal Butera compared to The Orlando Sentinel his job with players then to those of his own early playing career.

"Being a manager also means handling players' frustrations, goals and inabilities on and off the field," Butera told The Sentinel that January. "Even though I went through those things as a player almost 20 years ago, things change."

Butera's own playing career took him all the way to the majors over nine seasons. He also saw a World Series. His post-playing career saw him manage in the minors, coach in the majors and scout.

Butera's career in baseball began in 1972, signed as an undrafted free agent out of Suffolk County Community College.

Butera started with the White Sox in the rookie Gulf Coast League. He moved to the Yankees and single-A Fort Lauderdale for 1973. He then arrived with the Twins at single-A Lynchburg for 1974.

He made AA Orlando and AAA Tacoma for 1975, then AA in 1976 and AAA the next three seasons.

Butera debuted in the majors with the Twins in 1980. He saw 34 games that year, then 62 in 1981 and 54 in 1982. He then moved to the Tigers, Expos and Reds for 1983 into 1987.

In July 1986, the catcher spoke to The Dayton Daily News about the perils of the position after some minor injury.

"Just bruises," Butera told The Daily News. "Part of the position. Nobody put a gun to my head and said, 'You have to catch.'"

Butera returned to the Twins mid-1987, in time for their World Series run. He made two postseason appearances.

Butera then saw 23 final major league appearances in 1988 with the Blue Jays and finished out his career at AAA in 1989.

By 1990, Butera was with the Astros as manager of high-A Osceola, where he ended up having an early impact on Kenny Lofton.

After a bad start to the season, Butera had a talk with Lofton on the field, Butera recalled to The Arizona Daily Star in February 1991.

"I told him you play baseball 150 times a year. It's not like basketball where you play two times a week," Butera recalled to The Daily Star. "You have to be up every night. Otherwise, they'll eat you alive. From that point on, his work habits got better. His confidence grew."

Butera stayed with Osceola three seasons, then moved up to AA Jackson for 1993 and 1994. For 1995, he managed with the Twins at AA New Britain.

In 1998, he served as a coach for the Blue Jays in Toronto. He then turned scout, most recently recorded in that role in 2015.

Sal Butera 1990 Osceola Astros card

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,327
Made the Majors:1,398-32.3%-X
Never Made Majors:2,929-67.7%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:569
10+ Seasons in the Minors:351

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