Let's remember the rare few who have both pitched and caught in the Major Leagues
It's a big day on baseball's calendar: Indians pitchers and catchers are the first to report to Spring Training, which means that after months of cold days and hot stoves, MLB is finally back. Postseason heroics, nail-biting pennant races, months of blue skies and green grass -- it all begins today.
There are plenty of ways to celebrate: You could spend the day in your favorite jersey. You could give out some hugs to coworkers. But really, what better way to honor pitchers and catchers than by remembering some of the men who have served as both? Luckily, we've got you covered.
While this is a list dedicated to those who have been on both ends of a Major League battery, there are some other notable examples that deserve recognition. Like, say, Kenley Jansen, whom the Dodgers first signed out of the Curacao as a catcher. L.A. eventually moved him to the bullpen, presumably because he could do stuff like this:
Similarly, flame-throwing Angels closer Troy Percival was originally drafted as a catcher ... until, as legend has it, his Class A manager realized that the throws coming back to the pitcher were faster than the pitches themselves. (No, really.)
And then, of course, there's Buster Posey -- who, while never taking the mound as a Major Leaguer, once played all nine positions in a game while at Florida State.
Technically speaking, Christian Bethancourt did not win this year's NL Cy Young Award. He did manage to follow up a 94-mph fastball with an eephus pitch against the Marlins, though, so he won the Cy Young Award of our hearts:
Ross ended his Major League career with the Cubs, and he made sure to make it a memorable two years -- full of drama, pathos and a historic accomplishment the baseball world will not soon forget. We're speaking, of course, of the 1-2-3 inning he tossed in the ninth inning of a win against the Phillies in 2015:
Ross then homered in the bottom half of the inning, because it's his world and we're all just living in it.
Of course, not even Grandpa Rossy can step up to the mound cold and start floating knee-buckling knuckleballs:
You probably realized that all of the two-position stars we mentioned above came during blowouts. It's another achievement entirely to play a foreign position at the highest level with a game hanging in the balance -- just ask Brent Mayne.
The 15-year veteran spent almost all of his 1,279 Major League games at catcher. He had never pitched at any level. And then, in the 12th inning of the Rockies' game against the Braves on Aug. 22, 2000, he got the call: Colorado was out of arms, and Mayne was headed to the mound.
Mayne had to stare down one of the best offenses in baseball with no margin for error. So, naturally, everything worked out fine.
The Braves put men on first and second with two outs, when Mayne promptly induced a check-swing groundout from Chipper Jones. Colorado walked off in the bottom half of the inning, making Mayne the first non-pitcher to get a win in 32 years.
And then, of course, there are the Renaissance men. Those who not only have pitched and caught, but managed to play every single position on the field in one game.
The 1965 Kansas City A's were struggling, stuck in last place at 51-87 when the Angels came to town on Sep. 8. Looking for ways to boost attendance, owner Charles Finley -- a man who once established an imaginary home run line out of spite -- hatched an idea: He would get the team's shortstop, Bert "Campy" Campaneris, to play all nine positions on the field.
And thus, Campy Campaneris Night was born. Over 20,000 fans showed up, and they got what they came for -- Campaneris began the night at his normal shortstop, moved to second base in the second, third base in the third, left field in the fourth and so on, until he stepped behind the plate to catch the ninth inning. (He was even involved with a collision at home plate, and managed to hold on to the ball.)
Campaneris went 0-for-3 at the plate with a walk and a run scored, giving up a run on two walks and a hit with one strikeout in his inning pitched. Three other big leaguers have accomplished the feat since -- most recently in 2000, when both Scott Sheldon and Shane Halter pulled it off -- but we're guessing none of them managed to pitch ambidextrously.