|Catcher / Manager|
|Born: January 2, 1951|
|September 15, 1973, for the Philadelphia Phillies|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 30, 1984, for the Oakland Athletics|
|Runs batted in||307|
James Sarkis Essian, Jr. (born January 2, 1951) is an American former professional baseball player, coach, and manager, who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a catcher and occasional infielder with the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners, and Cleveland Indians.
Born in Detroit, Michigan, Essian was signed at age 18 by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1969, making his MLB debut for Philadelphia on September 15, 1973. Having amassed only 24 major league at-bats during three seasons with the Phillies, on May 7, 1975, Essian was traded (along with Barry Bonnell and cash considerations) to the Atlanta Braves for Dick Allen and Johnny Oates; on May 15, Essian was selected by the Chicago White Sox (from Atlanta), as the player to be named later, thereby completing the December 1974 trade in which the Braves had originally acquired Allen from the White Sox.
In 1978, Essian was traded to the Oakland Athletics, where his catching time became more limited. After a return stop to the White Sox, followed by the Seattle Mariners, the Cleveland Indians, and a brief return to Oakland, he retired following being released by the A's at the end of spring training, on March 31, 1985.
He became the first MLB manager of Armenian heritage.
A Cubs blog, "Hire Jim Essian," was named in honor of the former Cubs manager and has an author patterned after him named "Skip", due to Essian's insistence that his former players refer to him as "Skip Johnson".
Signed by the Philadelphia Phillies as an undrafted amateur free agent, out of Arizona State in 1969, Essian played in the minors before making his MLB debut with Philadelphia in 1973. He continued to bounce back and forth from the major leagues to the minors for the next few seasons. In May 1975, Essian and outfielder Barry Bonnell were traded to the Atlanta Braves for catcher Johnny Oates and Dick Allen. Eight days later, Essian was traded to the Chicago White Sox to finish the trade which had been started when the Braves acquired Allen in December 1974. As part of the White Sox deal, Essian was the player to be named later, which meant he had been traded for the same player twice with two different teams.
Essian was with the White Sox the next two seasons, seeing his most extensive playing time. After a year with the Oakland Athletics, he returned to the White Sox. Essian was then traded with Todd Cruz and Rod Allen to the Seattle Mariners for Tom Paciorek. Essian spent the next few seasons as a reserve catcher for the Cleveland Indians and the A's.
After he was released by Oakland in spring training of 1985, Essian signed with the Minor League Baseball (MiLB) Miami Marlins of the Florida State League. The Marlins were an independent team, meaning they were not affiliated with any major league club. Though the Marlins were a Single-A team, ownership was aggressive in signing former major league players in order to increase interest and game attendance. The Marlins added Essian and such fading big league players as Broderick Perkins, Juan Eichelberger, Derrel Thomas, Ed Farmer, and Mike Torrez. However, this plan backfired, after manager Tom Burgess was unable to get much out of his squad of former major leaguers and marginal prospects. Burgess was fired and Essian took over as manager. The team finished 58-83. 1985 was Essian's final season as an active player.