Thinking about great defensive 1st basemen led me to write the last blog about JT Snow, but it also jarred my memory to another event that happened early in my career. I might take a bunch of crap for admitting this, but since coming clean has become the cool thing to do, I figure I’ll jump on the bandwagon.
All kidding aside, (and I don’t feel too comfortable saying this) there was ONE instance in all my years of catching where I gave away a pitch to a hitter. In other words, I told the hitter what was coming. And that instance was JT Snow’s first big league at-bat.
JT may not remember, and for all I know, he may not have heard me. I don’t recall either of us rehashing the event to confirm that he did. But I did tell him, and here’s how I remember the details.
It was my second year in the Bigs and we were playing the Yankees in Kansas City towards the end of the season. Neither team had much to play for and JT was one of the expanded roster call-ups for the Yanks. Now, let me preface this story by telling you that JT and I played against, and with, each other on many teams growing up. From Connie Mack, to college ball, to the pros. He was a great teammate, a great competitor, and a fun guy to play against and with. In short, I really wanted to see him do well.
Anyway, it’s towards the end of the game, and lo and behold, up steps JT Snow as a pinch hitter. Holy cow, what a surreal event. I remember thinking it seemed like just yesterday we were playing at Blair Field in Long Beach in a Connie Mack league, and here we were messing around in Royals stadium! Pretty cool for two So Cal boys.
So as he’s nervously getting into the box, I wandered out to talk to the pitcher (I can’t remember who it was.) On my way back, as I past JT to squat down, I mumbled at him “fastball outside.” He promptly drilled a double to left field and that was that. Like I said, that’s probably not why he got his first hit, he may have been too nervous to even hear me. Then again, maybe that IS how he got his first hit and maybe I’M responsible for his whole career.
Like I said, this was the ONLY time this ever happened. Even if I’d wanted to, I was much too scared. I envisioned myself telling the hitter what was coming and then him hitting a rocket off the pitcher’s forehead. I just couldn’t have lived with that scenario. I would’ve felt like I personally killed a pitcher. Over the years, I had other catchers tell me they’d had instances where they told the hitter what was coming. Always in a last ditch effort to get a guy out who was hitting everything. Kind of like, screw it, he’s hitting everything anyway, let’s see what happens when I TELL his what’s coming.
I realize this admission might just keep me out of the Hall of Fame. And if that’s the case, FINE. I didn’t want to go into that crappy place anyway. If my stats and service to the game aren’t enough for the writers then screw em’. At least I can finally sleep with a clear conscious. I’m like The Jerk. All I need is my family and my surfboard and my cell phone and those glasses and…so there.