True story. It was 1994 if I’m not mistaken, the year Jacobs Field opened in Cleveland. Anyway, I was with the Royals and we’re playing the first game of a three game series. It’s the bottom of the first and before you know it, we’re down like 8 zip…and we only have one out.
I remember Doug Linton was pitching and taking a beating. Our manager, Bob Boone, had been out to the mound a couple times, baffled by the fact (as we all were) that the Indians were coming out of their shoes on every single pitch thrown – like they knew what was coming.
They obviously had the signs, but how? Was the first or third base coaches picking them from me or Linton? Was the on deck hitter relaying them to the hitter? The runners on base seeing something? We were baffled and nothing we tried remedied the predicament. It was to the point where I needed to put some cotton in my ears to muffle the deafening crack of the bat as the Indians came unglued.
So somehow we limp out of the inning and make it back to the dugout. Boone’s going nuts and the pitching coach is going nuts….basically the ship has taken on some serious water and nobody has a clue how to plug the hole.
At this point it occurs to me that the game, even though we’re only in the top of the second, is basically over. With that in mind, I approached Linton (who surprisingly is still pitching) and tell him just to throw whatever he wants. No signs. What do we have to lose? You throw it and I’ll try to deal and catch it.
And you know what happened? The Indians didn’t score another run the rest of the game! We had about 6 different pitchers throw that game, and we didn’t use a sign the whole time. They threw it and I tried to catch it. The weird thing was, it really wasn’t that hard. Not to pat myself on the back too much (well alright, maybe I am bragging a bit) but I caught just about everything cleanly.
I found it much harder to catch a pitch when you’ve been crossed up. Things can get a little dicey when you’re expecting the ball to move a certain way and it goes the opposite, like when you call a curve and the pitcher throws a heater. I wouldn’t have wanted to do it every game, but just seeing the ball out of the pitcher’s hand and reacting worked for that particular day and effectively stopped the Indians from getting the signs.
What were they doing? I don’t think we’ll ever know for sure, but if you want my opinion, I think they had a camera somewhere. Here’s a picture of Doug pitching for some crazy team. All for now. Adios.