A tough, all-out catcher who excelled at calling pitches, Manwaring was chosen as the San Francisco Giants‘ second pick in the June 1986 draft. Though he was projected to be their catcher of the future, the fine defensive backstop didn’t hit well enough to keep the job, and ended up splitting time with veteran Terry Kennedy behind the plate in 1989.
After spending much of 1990 in the minors, Manwaring suffered a broken finger early in 1991 as phenom Steve Decker challenged him for playing time behind the plate. But after the All-Star break, Manwaring’s bat began to heat up; this combined with his superb defense won him a starting job.
Over the next couple of years, Kirt continued to field well — he earned a Gold Glove in 1993 — but his weak hitting led the Giants to trade him to the Houston Astros for Rick Wilkins and cash in July 1996. At the end of the season, the Manwaring signed with the Colorado Rockies, hoping that Coors Field would make even his paltry batting average look respectable. After two unremarkable seasons of platooning, Manwaring retired after 1999, acknowledging that his body wasn’t up to the everyday stress baseball demanded.
In February 2001, the Giants sought Manwaring’s defensive brains again, hiring him to be a special spring training instructor for San Francisco’s catchers.