Remembering Dreams Come True – Part II
If you missed it on Tuesday, read about Salem skipper Billy McMillon’s recollections on being called up to the big leagues for the first time: http://salemsox.mlblogs.com/2012/07/17/remembering-dreams-come-true-part-i/
Today, our attentions turn to Rich Gedman, who caught a Dennis Eckersley one-hitter in his first ever start for the Boston Red Sox. That was September 26, 1980, Gedman’s 21st birthday. But 19 days before that, he arrived to the Show for the first time.
Hitting Coach Rich Gedman- Made MLB debut on September 7, 1980 for the Boston Red Sox
“[It was] business as usual. You come to the ballpark [in Triple-A Pawtucket], you go out to the field, taking batting practice, and somebody said, ‘Hey, [Manager] Joe [Morgan] wants to see you in his office.’ I was like, ‘what did I do now?’ We had an incident earlier where 8-or-10 of us were called into his office and got fined for doing some stupid stuff on the road. To make a long story short, I go walking in thinking, ‘I don’t remember doing anything, but I must have done something.’ Joe just kind of looked at me and said ‘Congratulations.’ And I’m like, ‘For what?’ ‘You’re getting called up the big leagues.’ I about started to cry. What a boost it was to me. I was probably hitting about .230 and I didn’t think I warranted a chance to go to the big leagues. But it just goes to show you, when you’re one step away, you never know what they see or what they want to see. So the opportunity was there.
“I went up for a month in 1980, and it was great. Joe Morgan came up to me after and said, ‘It’s like you got a shot of adrenaline. You’re a whole different guy in this last month of the season that I’ve watched you.’ I said, ‘Thanks, I don’t know why.’ You know why, but you can’t help it. There are 30,000 people there every night, and you gotta have your best foot forward, and tired’s not an option. It was just kinda neat. I didn’t get to play much, but it sure was a wonderful experience. The older guys were great to me. I got to hear a lot of stories about a lot of ways to go about your business. I got to play a few times. I got to start on my birthday. The first time around was a good one.
(On his first major league at-bat, in which he pinch-hit for Carl Yastrzemski)
“It really didn’t come down that way. That’s the way it looks in the books. Yaz was DHing and he had had a bad back or a sore back. I’d probably been there for 10 days, maybe even longer. And I think he just went up to [Manager] Don Zimmer and said ‘Why don’t you just let Gedman DH the rest of the day?’ That’s not factual; that’s just a guess. But he was really good to me. The rest was kind of history. I got to pinch-hit in my first at-bat. I get to start my first game on my birthday. It was a treat.
“The first day I went [to Fenway Park], I was there early. I went and looked at my locker. I get my uniform on. I go outside. And as I’m walking up the stairs, you can see the Green Monster in front of ya. It’s spectacular. It’s everything you think it’s gonna be, and more. And the field is the greenest green that you’ve ever seen. It’s the flattest flat. It’s just absolutely incredible to be there.”
Next up: Salem Pitching Coach Kevin Walker
Until then, enjoy tonight’s action as the Salem Sox look to make it to in a row over the Keys. First pitch at 7 PM on NewsTalk 960 AM & FM 107.3 WFIR and www.salemsox.com.
Talk to you soon,
July 18, 2012 7:00 Salem Red Sox (49-45-1, 8-17) vs Frederick Keys (39-56, 12-13) Game #96
Harry Grove Stadium Frederick, MD Road Game #53
Probable Starters: Yeiper Castillo (0-1, 1.38) vs RHP Scott Copeland (3-7, 6.42)
Playing the Full Nine: In each of the past two ballgames, the team that scored three runs in the first inning tasted defeat when the night was over. The Sox fell 7-6 despite a three-run first on Monday, while Salem prevailed 6-4 on Tuesday after trailing 3-0 early. In 95 games, Tuesday was just the eighth time that Salem won when trailing after the first inning. The Sox are 8-20 when trailing after one and 20-7-1 when leading after one. All together, 56 of Salem’s 95 games have featured one of the teams ahead following the first inning.
Like Shooting Free Throws: In the first two games of the series, Travis Shaw has made reaching base look as easy as a Ray Allen free throw. Salem’s All-Star first-baseman has reached nine times in ten trips, going 2-for-3 with a double, a three-run homer, six walks, and one hit-by-pitch. He also popped to the shortstop in the ninth inning on Monday, the only time in the last two games he failed to reach first. Shaw’s on-base percentage for the season is .413, fifth in the circuit, but second among active Carolina Leaguers. With 14 homers, Shaw is tied for third, and his 70 RBI are good for second in the league.
Another Day, Another Homer: If Michael Almanzar produced home runs against every team like he did against Frederick, the Salem third baseman would lead the league with 35 bombs. Alas, he owns five home runs against the Keys and just two against the rest of the league. Almanzar’s solo blast in the ninth inning on Tuesday was his fourth dinger at Harry Grove Stadium this season, while he also owns one home run against the Keys at LewisGale Field. Almanzar also went deep at Wilmington on May 1 and on June 28 vs. Potomac.
He’s On Fire: Since June 23, Salem catcher Christian Vazquez has hit .422 (27-for-64), a stretch that has enabled the Puerto-Rican backstop to bring his season average from .220 to .271. Vazquez has seven doubles and four homers sprinkled in to this 17 game stretch, in which he’s registered the best batting average in the Carolina League. Vazquez also owns a .500 on-base percentage during this stretch, with 10 walks mixed in to his 17-game hot streak.
It Goes Up to 11: On Tuesday night, righthanded pitcher Stephen Fife became the 11th member of the 2009 Salem Sox to make his major league debut. Fife, dealt to the LA Dodgers at the Trade Deadline last year, opposed Philadelphia’s Roy Halladay on the mound at Chavez Ravine last night and outpitched the two-time Cy Young Award Winner. Fife tossed six strong innings and allowed just one run in the top of the first, departing in the seventh with a 2-1 lead. The Dodgers bullpen could not hang on, however, and Fife received a no-decision for his superb effort. The other members of the 2009 Salem Sox to have made the big leagues are Daniel Nava, Ryan Kalish, Yamaico Navarro, Robert Coello, Kyle Weiland, Anthony Rizzo, Tim Federowicz, Luis Exposito, and Kris Negron. Salem’s ‘09 club finished the regular season with a below .500 mark, but made it to the Mills Cup Championship series by sweeping the Dash in the first round.