Torborg reportedly received the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ first $100,000 bonus in 1963 when he was signed out of Rutgers, where his .537 batting average in his senior year set an NCAA record which still stands. Though he stayed with LA from 1964 through 1970, he was always a backup catcher, behind Johnny Roseboro and Tom Haller. In California, Torborg found himself on the receiving end of some of the most memorable games in Dodger history. He caught Sandy Koufax‘s perfect game on September 9, 1965, Bill Singer’s no-hitter on July 20, 1970, and the fifth of Don Drysdale‘s six consecutive 1968 shutouts. Later as an Angel, Torborg caught Nolan Ryan‘s May 15, 1973 no-hitter.
Despite his involvement in three major league no-hitters, Torborg became better known as a manager. His first appointment as skipper came in June 1977, when he replaced Frank Robinson as the Cleveland Indians manager, and lasted through July 1979. A month later he became a Yankee coach and stayed in the Bronx for ten years.
The Chicago White Sox hired Torborg in 1989 to pilot the young, floundering squad. Taking the South Side’s last place team, the hard-working, puritanical skipper guided them to a second-place finish in 1990, garnering the Manager of the Year Award. Torborg left Chicago in 1992 to take the helm of the New York Mets, who had recently fired the ineffective Bud Harrelson.
At Shea, Torborg’s results were less than miraculous. Amidst turmoil in the clubhouse and on the field, the new manager’s disciplinarian methods were met with friction from the ballplayers. Unable to turn the Mets’ sinking ship around, he was fired in May 1993 and replaced by Dallas Green.
When Torborg’s close friend Jeffrey Loria bought the Montreal Expos, he invited Torborg to spring training in 2000 as a special instructor for Montreal’s catchers. A year later Torborg was signed to a three-year contract to pilot the team after manager Felipe Alou was fired on May 31, 2001.