Results tagged ‘ Mike Magnante ’

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]; 

MAGNANTE REPLACED GORDON (PITCHING); 

Hall tripled [Mattingly scored]; 

R. KELLY RAN FOR HALL; 

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.
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