Chris Cannizzaro. Photo courtesy San Diego Padres
Chris Cannizzaro. Photo courtesy San Diego Padres

Chris Cannizzaro, the catcher who became the San Diego Padres’ first All-Star in 1969, has died at the age of 78, it was reported Friday.

The date and circumstances of the Rancho Penasquitos resident’s death weren’t immediately clear, but the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that he had been suffering from emphysema.

Cannizzaro had played for the Cardinals, Mets and Pirates before being drafted by the expansion Padres before the 1969 season. He batted .220 and hit four home runs for a team that lost 110 games.

It was believed he was named to the All-Star team because the National League was in need of a catcher behind Johnny Bench of the Reds and Randy Hundley of the Cubs. He never made it into the game.

Randy Jones, a longtime local fan favorite who earned two All-Star berths and won a Cy Young Award in 1976, tweeted: “Sorry to hear that my old teammate Chris Cannizzaro has passed away. The first Padre Allstar and my catcher in 73 & 74. Some great memories.”

He played five more seasons before moving into coaching in the Angels organization. His later years were spent in San Diego-area baseball circles, where he coached at Monte Vista High School in Spring Valley and was an assistant at the University of San Diego.

Cannizzaro was born on May 3, 1938, in Oakland and attended high school in San Leandro, in Northern California.

—City News Service