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Knapp's mom put Phillies catcher on path

Suggestion to switch-hit at young age helped backstop stand out
MLB.com

PHILADELPHIA -- One of Andrew Knapp's parents was a career Minor Leaguer. The other instilled in him his most valuable attribute as a ballplayer.

The former, Knapp's father Mike, was an 11-year Minor League catcher who could never quite break into the big leagues. For years, Mike heard the same tired trope from general managers and coaches alike: "If you were left-handed, you'd already be in the Majors."

PHILADELPHIA -- One of Andrew Knapp's parents was a career Minor Leaguer. The other instilled in him his most valuable attribute as a ballplayer.

The former, Knapp's father Mike, was an 11-year Minor League catcher who could never quite break into the big leagues. For years, Mike heard the same tired trope from general managers and coaches alike: "If you were left-handed, you'd already be in the Majors."

To ensure her son -- who, like her husband, was born right-handed -- wasn't hindered by the same obstacle, Julie Knapp made a suggestion when Andrew was 3 or 4 years old and most impressionable. She didn't even tell her husband.

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Unaware that his son had begun combatting the very thing that was hindering his professional baseball career, Mike returned from a Triple-A road trip to find his son swinging a bat left-handed.

"I think he was a little surprised with how blunt my mom was about it," Knapp said. "It ended up working out."

Although Andrew's mom planted the seed, his father groomed the land.

"You're either going to do it for real or not at all," Knapp remembers his father saying once he reached 11 or 12 years old, the age at which he would have to start taking it seriously if he truly wanted to excel. "I made the decision that I was going to do it for real, but she initially flipped me around."

"As far as my overall worth, I think it helps me a lot being able to hit for power from both sides. You don't see that a lot from catchers," Knapp said.

Only four switch-hitting catchers played in 100 games last season, and only two were power threats. Knapp is clearly in the minority, and he has his mother to thank for it.

While both his parents impacted his athletic career from a young age, neither was forceful or overbearing. Baseball was his choice.

"I never really got pushed to play baseball at all by either of my parents," Knapp said. "It was more of something I loved to do, and they would support me in that."

Knapp also played football from the age of 10 through high school and swam competitively. Baseball tournaments populated his summers. All the while, his mom served as his personal chauffeur.

"She was definitely a huge aspect of my success, and for her to be able to basically be a taxi driver for my entire childhood, I was very fortunate," Knapp said.

For Knapp, who now straps on his spikes to dig himself into both sides of Major League batter's boxes, he has his mother to thank.

"If I was strictly left-handed or strictly right-handed, who knows where I'd be?" Knapp said.

Ben Harris is a reporter for MLB.com based in Philadelphia.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Philadelphia Phillies, Andrew Knapp