I’ve been watching baseball a long time, and today on Fresh Air, i indulge my fascination with the role catchers play. My guest is Brad Ausmus, an ivy league grad who just finished an 18-year carreer in the big leagues as one of the best and most durable catchers in the game.
I can’t do any better explaining why this interests me than I did in my intro to Brad’s interview…
Catchers aren’t like the outfielders, gracefully loping under fly balls, or infielders diving for grounders. They’re baseball’s anonymous brutes, hidden behind masks, crouched behind the plate, eating dust from pitches in the dirt and getting clipped by foul balls. But the position is incredibly demanding, both physically and mentally. Besides doing a hundred fifty deep knee bends a day and absorbing collisions at the plate, catchers have to study hitters and call for just the right pitches, and manage the psyches of their pitchers, young and old.
Ausmus, a three-time gold glove winner was an insightful guide to the game, calmly and candidly describing the position, including the time he was knocked unconscious in a play at the plate. You can hear the interview at 3 and 7 on 91FM in Philadelphia. Outside the Philly area, find a station here.
And for a wince-inducing look at what catchers go through, check out the video here of Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz taking a foul tip Tuesday night. Remarkably, he finished the game. He hasn’t played since.
And I have to give a high five to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Susan Snyder and Kristen Graham for smoking out the story of business leaders in Philadelphia trying to collect enough money to buy Schools Superintendant Arlene Ackerman out of her contract.
Their sources say the money would be funneled through the Philadelphia’s Children First Fund, a charitable nonprofit set up in 2003 to support the School District. It will be fascinating to hear the officers of that organization explain to the IRS how this qualifies as charitable work.