Padres manager John McNamara said Ivie, San Diego’s number-one draft choice in 1970, “was born to catch.” But Ivie hated catching and preferred first base; the Padres tried him at third base too, including 61 games there in 1975. When he was moved again to third base in 1977, he jumped the team for several days. It looked as though he would live up to his promise as a hitter in 1976, when he hit .291 with 70 RBI in 405 at-bats. But San Diego tired of his attitude and traded him in February 1978 for Derrel Thomas.
Ivie hit a career-high .308 for the Giants in 1978 when he backed up the aging Willie McCovey at first base. Ivie showed little range but was a useful pinch hitter. He went 12-for-31 in the pinch and tied a major league record with two pinch grand slams that season. That performance won him more playing time in 1979, and he had career highs of 27 HR and 89 RBI in 402 at-bats. He also had a clause written into his contract specifying that he would not have to catch.
His power vanished in 1980 (four HR in 286 at-bats) and Ivie once again wore out his welcome. He was traded to Houston in April 1981 for Jeff Leonard and Dave Bergman, and his career petered out thereafter. Rick Monday summed it up best when he said, “Mike Ivie is a forty-million-dollar airport with a thirty-dollar control tower.”