Vogt's emotional farewell 'everything I could dream of'

Catcher slugs HR in final at-bat of 10-year career in A's season finale

October 6th, 2022

OAKLAND -- Growing up in Visalia, Calif.,  spent countless summer nights in the Central Valley heat imitating the swing of Will Clark, his favorite player on the Giants. Set up in his front yard, he’d pretend to hit home runs, visualizing himself doing so on a big league field.

Playing his last Major League game on Wednesday in the A’s 3-2 victory over the Angels, Vogt got one last chance to live out his childhood dream. 

Leading off the bottom of the seventh inning knowing his third plate appearance of the game would also be the last of his career, Vogt -- who announced on Sept. 22 that he would be retiring at season's end -- took a slow stroll to the plate and soaked in the ovation from the Coliseum crowd. Digging into the box, he shared some words with Angels rookie catcher Logan O’Hoppe before locking in to face right-hander Zack Weiss.

On the first pitch he saw, Vogt pounced on a 94.2 mph fastball, drilling it into the Budweiser section in right field for a home run.

"I just got every emotion out," Vogt said of his feelings while rounding the bases during the magical moment. "I was just like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ So happy and so elated. The little kid in you that used to play out in the front yard and pretend to be Will Clark, I let that that come out. I enjoyed every second of it. It was a thrilling, thrilling moment."

Sharing a hug at home plate with on-deck batter Ernie Clement, Vogt received high-fives all around from each one of his teammates and coaches who jumped out of the A’s dugout to celebrate the homer. A couple of minutes later, Vogt was pushed back onto the field by Tony Kemp, waving his arms to all directions of the Coliseum and locking eyes with his wife, Alyssa, and other members of his family as he received a curtain call.

"My kids and my wife are the most important people in my life," Vogt said. "I had tears in my eyes. It was everything I could dream of. To have my family with me on my final day and be given the opportunity to walk away on my terms, it’s not something I take lightly. I know very few of us get to do it, and I’m so thankful."

Concluding his 10-year career with a big fly, Vogt became just the 10th player in the expansion era (since 1961) to have a home run for his first and last career hit, with the last coming at least 10 years after the first. The similarity between the two homers is also quite uncanny.

When Vogt notched his first home run -- also a solo shot off then-Cardinals reliever Joe Kelly on June 28, 2013, to snap an 0-for-32 streak that began his Major League career -- that ball also sailed into the same section of right-field seats at the Coliseum. As soon as Vogt made contact on Wednesday, he replayed the memory of his first home run in his head.

"They’re both very similar," Vogt said. "Both on fastballs out over the plate. I’m sure I’ll watch the replay about 1,000 times here in the next few days. The fact that it was the same exact spot, right when I hit it, I knew. That’s all I can really think about. I’m so blessed. It was a very special moment. To see my teammates’ reactions, that’s everything to me."

The tributes to Vogt began before the game with a pregame ceremony in which the A’s honored his career with a video package of highlights from his six seasons with Oakland. Throughout the afternoon, the A’s played video messages from several of Vogt’s former teammates and coaches, with Brewers star Christian Yelich and Padres manager Bob Melvin among those congratulating him on his career.

"Stephen’s day, write the book," said A’s manager Mark Kotsay. "A homer on the first pitch and exits his career like you want to as a player. You couldn’t draw it up any better. So proud of him. Proud to be part of his career. Proud to have gotten to manage a player that I truly have the utmost respect for."

The most emotional moment for Vogt, however, came during his first two plate appearances. As he walked to the plate for each, all three of his children surprised him from the PA booth by announcing his name over the Coliseum speakers.

"What a beautiful day that the Oakland A’s organized for my family and myself," Vogt said. “What a game. Catching seven shutout innings and hitting a homer in your final at-bat, can’t even make it up."

When Vogt announced last month that he’d be retiring at season’s end, he made it clear that he desires to remain involved with baseball in some capacity. Whether it be as a manager or broadcaster, he’s not quite sure yet. In the meantime, he’ll spend time with his family back home in Olympia, Wash.

Despite a disappointing season in the win-loss column witht he A's, who finished the year 60-102, Vogt said he enjoyed the opportunity to serve as a leader inside a young A’s clubhouse that saw a franchise record 64 players come through the building, including 34 rookies. Though he’ll step away from the game, he’ll keep an eye on this team from afar, excited about the development of several top prospects such as , who fired seven shutout innings in Wednesday’s season finale.

"It was fun," Vogt said of his final Major League season. "Ken’s got such a great arm. He’s learning how to pitch. Along with JP Sears, Nick Allen, James Kaprielian, the list goes on of the young talent in this building. The guys in that room are ready for next year. The sky’s the limit for a lot of young guys in that room. I’m excited to keep an eye on them from wherever I might be."