This is actually true. The last time Ausmus and Sparks were at Comerica Park together, they were batterymates for a game against the Twins on the next-to-last day of the 2000 season. That was the first year of the ballpark.
Of course, they were in the clubhouse then. On Monday, they were in the manager's office -- Ausmus running the Tigers, Sparks calling Astros games on the radio.
"Last time I was in here, I was getting released," Sparks retorted.
That was a few years later, long after Ausmus had been dealt to Houston.
Ausmus caught Sparks nine times in that 2000 season, which places him ninth on the 28-man list of Sparks games caught. Ausmus is the third former-Sparks-catcher-turned-Major-League-manager, joining Mike Matheny and A.J. Hinch.
Unlike a lot of Major League catchers, Ausmus said he never had much of an issue catching a knuckleball. Sparks apparently didn't have much problem pitching to him, posting a 3.25 ERA and a 2.15 strikeout-to-walk ratio in games Ausmus caught.
"I did use a different glove," Ausmus said. "As a matter of fact, Sparky gave me the glove. Most knuckleballers travel with a knuckleball glove, and I kept it and I used it for all the knuckleballers I caught after that."
Asked to describe the difference between that and his regular catcher's mitt, Ausmus said, "Imagine that a catcher's mitt and a first baseman's mitt had a baby."