Charles Anthony Ryan Silvera (born October 13, 1924) is a retired American Major League Baseball player and coach. Nicknamed Swede, he was part of six World Series championships with the New York Yankees.
Silvera was born in San Francisco, California, and attended St. Ignatius College Preparatory High School. He signed with the Yankees in 1942, and played the outfield for the Wellsville Yankees at just seventeen years old. He missed the 1943 through 1945 seasons serving in World War II. When he returned for the 1946 season, he was converted to catcher with the triple A Kansas City Blues.
New York Yankees
After three more seasons in the minors, Silvera debuted with the Yankees on September 29, 1948, and went three-for-four with a triple in his major league debut. He followed that up with a three-for-five performance the next day.
His hot bat earned him the backup catcher job behind Yogi Berra for the 1949 season. A thumb injury to Berra moved him into the starting job for the month of August. He batted .329 with eight runs batted in while filling in for the future Hall of Famer. For the season, he posted career highs in games played (58), at-bats (130) and RBIs (13).
The Yankees faced the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1949 World Series. Silvera's only appearance came in game two, and he was held hitless in two at-bats by Preacher Roe. Despite having been part of six World championship teams, this was the only World Series appearance he would ever make.
Having only been used a total of 21 times in the 1955 & 1956 seasons, Silvera was dealt by the Yankees to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for fellow catcher Harry Chiti before the 1957 season. Cubs equipment manager Yosh Kawano decided to issue him Yogi Berra's number 8 upon his arrival in Chicago, as he had served as Berra's back up for eight seasons with the Yankees. His only season in the National League was interrupted by an ankle sprain in late May that caused him to miss three weeks of the season. He was released by the Cubs after just one season in which he batted .208 with two RBIs in 26 games.
In a 10-season career, Silvera earned a reputation as a fine handler of pitchers. His only career home run came in the first game of a July 4 doubleheader off former teammate Fred Sanford, now with the Washington Senators.
Post playing career
Upon his release from the Cubs, Silvera returned to the Yankees as a player/manager for their Southern Association double A affiliate, the New Orleans Pelicans. With his team mired in last place, he was replaced at the helm in the middle of the 1958 season by fellow player/manager, Ray Yochim. He repeated the player manager role with the Binghamton Triplets in 1959, guiding them to a 71-68 record.
Following his majors career, Silvera scouted for the Washington Senators. When Billy Martin got his first managing job with the Minnesota Twins in 1969, he named Silvera his bullpen coach. He rejoined Martin with the Detroit Tigers from 1971 to 1973 and the Texas Rangers from 1973 to 1975.
- Career statistics and player information from Retrosheet