Remember The Mayne

For more than a decade, one of the pleasures of popping on to a big league ballfield was the frequency with which I would run in to the peripatetic catcher (and, once, winning pitcher) Brent Mayne. When his career ended with the Dodgers in ’04, a little part of my youth went with it.

He might have been the first player who actually said to me “I used to watch you when I was in high school” and could prove it – he was a senior at Costa Mesa High in California when I got to KTLA in Los Angeles in 1985 – and he probably was about as close to my own age as anybody who could’ve said that, could’ve been (I would be about nine years his elder). Brent never failed to ask about family and mutual friends and career milestones, and his reputation as a strong and affable teammate was widespread throughout the game.
None of that conflicts with the bizarre events of the past week that got such play at the website Deadspin, that began at Brent’s blog:

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. 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.

…as I past (sic) 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. 

Brent gives the background in great detail: he and J.T. Snow had grown up together, from Connie Mack Baseball through the colleges into the minor leagues. The thought of him reaching the majors while Mayne was catching – the fulfillment of it all, was just too much, and like probably dozens of guys before him, Mayne decided to try to give a pal a break.

Except, J.T. Snow went 0-for-5 in his first big league game. It was indeed against the Royals, in Kansas City, on September 20, 1992, and Brent Mayne was catching. But there was no double to left; in fact Snow struck out once and hit into a double play for a neat debut of six outs created.

When the story was questioned, Brent put up another post with an apology and a completely Mayne-like explanation, worth both a laugh and a ‘that’s all right, Pal!”:

I was hanging out with George Brett a lot those early years, so my memory is all pops and crackles. It’s tough to remember on two hours of sleep a night…

I know for sure that he was playing for the Yanks. I know for sure it was towards the end of the season. I know for sure it was JT! So I’m thinking one of two things. One, could it have been in New York instead of KC? Or two, I told him the pitch and he lined out instead of doubled. I may have twisted a line out into a double in my memory (it does make it a little better story.)

The Retrosheet boxscore of that first game I linked to above gives Snow’s AB’s in his debut game as follows:

2nd Inning: Flied to left

3rd Inning: Flied to left

6th Inning: Grounded out, third to first

7th Inning: Lined into a doubleplay, first to third

8th Inning: Struck out

Aha! Now we’re getting somewhere. 7th inning: lined into a doubleplay, first to third. No wonder Brent Mayne’s memory is playing tricks on him. He tipped his buddy J.T. in hopes of getting him his first hit (in his fourth at bat, not his first) and instead he lines into a double play.

Except the Royals had started that top of the 7th leading 3-2. Retrosheet again:

YANKEES 7TH: B. Williams doubled to center; 

Velarde singled [B.Williams stayed at second]; 

Mattingly doubled [B. Williams scored, 

Velarde scored]; 

Tartabull grounded out (first unassisted) 

[Mattingly to third]; 


Hall tripled [Mattingly scored]; 


Snow lined into a double play (first to third) 

[R. Kelly out at third]; 

3 R, 4 H, 0 E, 0 LOB.  

Yankees 5, Royals 3

I do not think Brent Mayne would have tipped a pitch to his own son, with Tom Gordon having just surrendered the tying and lead runs in the 7th on a Mattingly double, and Mike Magnante having been greeted by Mel Hall with an RBI triple and only one out.

I know, I know – by now nobody’s interested in this saga any more, not Mayne, not Snow, maybe not you. But I began wondering if there was some other game, some other at bat, some other something that created this phantom memory in my old friend’s head. 

We have all the resources we need – Retrosheet is a heckuva site – and it turns out that between 1992 and 2004 there were 22 games in which J.T. Snow batted while Brent Mayne was catching. Most notably, Snow not only didn’t get his first big league hit off a Mayne tipped pitch – he didn’t get any hits off a pitch Mayne called, tipped or otherwise, until his fourth season in the majors. That would’ve been an RBI single on May 14, 1995, when the Angels visited Kansas City. It broke Snow’s debut skein of 0-for-11 in Mayne-caught games in ’92 and ’93 (Mayne didn’t play a single game against the Angels in ’94).

In point of fact, J.T. Snow didn’t do very well at all with his old friend behind the bat:

Games: 22

At Bats: 80

Hits: 17

Average: .213

Doubles: 3

Triples: 0

Homers: 2

RBI: 8

The first Snow double didn’t come until July 4th, 2000, by which time Snow was with the Giants and Mayne, the Rockies.

So, with this mystery still unsolved… did I ever tell you about my other friend who claimed every game he pitched against an opposing batter he didn’t like, he hit him? What a liar that guy was! He faced him five times and only hit him in three of the games!

Then again – he was counting spring training.



    Maybe I’m crazy, but I read the whole story and enjoyed it. But then, I like following the twists and turns of interesting stuff like that, and I enjoy research, generally speaking. Memory is a fickle thing, isn’t it? I still remember that day you and I had lunch at the top of the Empire State Building – oh, wait… it wasn’t you, was it? And it wasn’t the Empire State Building – come to think of it, it was the Applebees down the street, and it wasn’t lunch, it was dinner with my sister… but I do remember how much fun it was to have lunch with you! Okay, I did tell you I have a quirky sense of humor, right? 🙂 Hugs to you and your father, and I hope he’s well enough to leave the hospital soon.


    I haven’t been online much lately, so I just now saw your last two blog entries.

    It’s good to hear that your father is doing better, and I wish him continued improvement. Thanks for the update. 🙂

  3. liberalbaseballfan10

    Hi Mr. Olbermann,

    First, I just want you to know that your MSNBC show is fabulous: I rarely miss a show, and I watch what I miss on Countdown’s website. Second, congrats on your humanitarian work for the Native Americans and for the National Association of Free Clinics- the hour-long Special Comment about the free clinics drew tears. Third, I give my best wishes to you and your father- I hope he has many healthy years ahead of him.

    If you have some free time (I’m sure that with the two Comments you write each day, you must not have much), please read my new blog, Tomorrow’s Progressives, at

    Ahead of time, I hope you don’t mind- I’ve linked to Countdown’s site and used the Lonesome Rhodes Beck picture a couple times. I thought that you would enjoy this. If you like it, it would be a real help and a great honor for me if you were to put it on Countdown or your website.

    By the way, if the writing seems young- I’m 13 years old.

    Thank you, Your Great Fan of both your show and this blog

    P.S. Thanks for reading for this long. By the way, I’ve got a little news tip I found while watching Faux- O’Reilly and Hannity attacked Joe Biden, the stimulus package, and Obama instead of airing the press conference by Clinton’s cardiologist- for details, read the Breaking News story at Thanks!


    Hi Keith – just wanted to wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day! Stay warm! 🙂 Oh yeah – and baseball is great, isn’t it? (Whew… managed to stay on topic!)

  5. hartbreak

    LOVE these kinds of stories. You’re like an organic, adapting, labyrinthine encyclopaedia of the American mythology which is baseball. Keep ’em coming.


    Tonight’s show was hi-larious! You seemed to have an extra little zing in your delivery. I attribute it to the imminent onsent of Spring Training and new baseball cards, but what do I know?! Personally, I’m counting the minutes ’till Thursday.

    “It’s the most wonderful time of the year….”


    I was LOL in a good way, at your glee over those packs of baseball cards on Countdown tonight. Good thing you had them on hand, to kill a few seconds of dead air time when your guest’s earpiece died!

    I read a news article you might find interesting, about a guy who wants to trade off half a million dollars’ worth of baseball cards and sports memorabilia (incl. a “treasure trove of Yankees collectibles”) for a San Diego County house with a view – even a fixer-upper!

    It sounds amusing on the surface, but I see something deeper in this story. He says he proposed the trade because his interests have changed, but IMHO, he has no other way of affording a better house. As the man himself said, “People will consider about everything these days, especially if a lady is willing to marry for health insurance.”

    That last sentence pretty much says it all about the state of our country today. And to think I stumbled upon that, when all I was doing was doing a Google News search about baseball cards….

  8. minnjeff

    Yes, Wrigley Regular, that may well be the case, but he’s also the last position player to record a win as a pitcher. And was the first one in years and years (no time for Googling now…).


    You are the smartest man I don’t know. My Dad’s the smartest I DO know. I love your show and your blog. Don’t you just love when pitchers and catchers report ??

  10. Pepe

    Do we need an epiphany when it comes to comomn sense? I mean, do we have to figure it out all by ourself? Or are we smart enough to look for it? Should it be called rare sense since it’s not always so comomn?

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