Wednesday, December 08, 2004
8 Days of Jewish Baseball
Number 11; Catcher
Ausmus is generally known as a great defensive catcher. He won the Gold Glove award in 2001 and 2002, and in 2000 he set the AL single-season record for least passed balls. The Astros signed him to a two-year deal back in 2003 basely almost solely on his catching and play-calling abilities. This is true because his bat is extremely unimpressive, including a somewhat dismal .229 batting average in the '03 season. He's now 35, which is definitely getting up there for a catcher, so it's hard to say how much longer he'll be playing.
Brad Ausmus was fun to research, for a couple of reasons. First we have the fact that he's rather cute. Yeah, yeah I might have a hang-up for catchers in general ('Tek, Pudge...), but come on. Look at him! Awwwww.
It was also infinitely awesome for me to discover, in my great scourging of the internet, that Ausmus grew up in Connecticut and has always been a huge Red Sox fan. This lead to a truly heart-warming excerpt from a USA Today article written back when he was with the Tigers:
'Detroit catcher Brad Ausmus, a native of New Haven, Conn., was a Yankees-hater as a kid. Maybe that shouldn't be past tense.
Growing up, Ausmus made a sign of beads and glue that read "Yankees Stink!" and hung it in his room.
He confessed Monday that it's still hanging in his parent's house, even after Yankees manager Torre picked him for his first All-Star Game.
"If Joe Torre wants, I'll take it down," he said, then paused. "No, if he asks, I'll leave it. I'll just turn it around."'
Ausmus graduated from Dartmouth in 1991 with a degree in government. He was selected in the 1987 draft by the Yankees, but refused to sign until the Yankees relented and said that he could remain in classes while in the minors. I hate to be cliche about this, but his mother must have been so proud.
A couple of days ago I probably couldn't have told Brad Ausmus from the inexplicable and perfectly terrifying Astro's mascot. So it's rather nice to find that one of the few Jewish ballplayers today is a smart, skilled catcher with a lovable hatred of the Yankees.
Tomorrow's Jewish Ballplayer of the Day is number 43. Take a guess or wait and see.