“Nobody does this!” Mitchell’s catch still stuns

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One play is often immediately remembered by baseball fans when they hear the words “The Catch”: Willie Mays’ game-saving, over the shoulder gem at deep center field at Polo Grounds in Game 1 in the 1954 World Series.

Threety-five year after that momentous moment, Mays was working in Spring Training in Scottsdale, Ariz. with the Giants’ latest outfielders. He had the unique ability to impart the intricacies of defense from an in-circle Hall of Famer’s knowledge, skill, and experience that only he could have.

Mays could not take credit for the play one of those St. Louis outfielders made on the left-field line the next month.

Kevin Mitchell said, “Willie called” me after the game. He stunned even the “Say Hey Kid”, with one of the greatest defensive plays in baseball history. Mitchell, who was 60 Thursday, will never forget the words of Mays.

He said, “I never taught you how that.”

Mitchell’s first baseman Will Clark correctly predicted that “That” would be a highlight reel for many decades. Mitchell was stunned when he jogged towards the dugout after the third out of the innings. He was met with silence.

Clark stated, “It was a spontaneous silence treatment because we couldn’t believe what just happened.”

What the Giants and Cardinals, along with 27,514 fans in attendance, saw at Busch Stadium on April 26, 1989, was a catch they’d never forget on a play that began as ordinarily as a play could begin — with one out and nobody on in the bottom of the first, Ozzie Smith hit a fly ball down the left-field line that was heading into foul territory. Mitchell, playing the light-hitting Wizard, sprint over to the wall, taking alternate glances at the ball as well as the wall.

Mitchell realized that the ball was over his head as it fell.

Mitchell stated, “I didn’t know at the time that a fly ball heading foul will tail back to you with a lot left-handed hitters.” Mitchell said, “So I ran it and there was no way that I was going to get my glove back there.”

“So, I just held my hand up.”

Mitchell grabbed the ball and ran straight into the foul line. You would probably have written F-7 if you were scoring the game in the press box, at home, or while watching television.

Giants broadcaster Duanekuiper was present on the call and may have perfectly captured what was going through everyone’s minds when he stated: “In all my life, I have never seen this happen.” “… You have to be kidding me!”

Kuiper’s broadcast partner for the last 28 years, Mike Krukow, was also in the building, but in the Giants dugout down the third-base line as he played in the last of 14 Major League seasons as a starting pitcher.

Krukow stated, “I was sitting down on the bench and to see down to the left-field line at Busch from the visitors dugout, we had to get up off the seat and lean up on the stairs to look left, because the stands are blocking your view.”

You’re looking at him, and you think, “He’s got an awful angle on this thing.” He reaches up to grab it and places it in his bare hands. There was not even a bobble. He velcroed it.”

Mitchell was a wiffle ball player as a child. When he realized that he would not be able make the catch in the traditional way, his next move was instinctual.

Mitchell stated, “You didn’t have gloves for wiffle ball.” Mitchell said, “You used to use your hands.” It was so easy to just hold my hand up, and it fell smooth. It was smooth as butter.”

Mitchell returned to the dugout in silence, but soon the team’s laughter turned into excited laughter. Mitchell then made his way to Clark’s bench.

Clark stated, “I was flabbergasted.” It was unbelievable. Everyone started laughing and Kevin was like, “What’s everyone laughing about?” I replied, “Nobody does that!” “Nobody catches a ball in the outfield barehanded like that!

It wasn’t a huge deal for Mitchell. It was nothing to write home about. Willie Mays is not worth the call.

Mitchell stated, “I was stunned that everyone was looking at my the same way they were looking at mine.” Mitchell said, “I was shocked that everybody was looking at me the way they were.”

Mitchell was more than just a 1989. worker. Although that season was his best and most memorable in Giants history it was not something he had anticipated. After attending an open scrimmage, Mitchell was signed by the Mets as an undrafted free agent. He hit a pair of homers at San Diego State against Bud Black, his future Major League pitcher. Mitchell was a member of the 1986 club that won the World Series, playing a key role in one of the most famous games in baseball history — Game 6 of that Fall Classic, when New York rallied in the 10th inning and won on a ground ball that went between Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner’s legs.

Mitchell was traded to the Padres by the Mets in that offseason. However, after struggling in San Diego, San Francisco dealt him to San Francisco midway through ’87. He immediately made an impact.

Mitchell hit a pair two-run homers in his Giants’ first game at Wrigley Field, July 5. This helped San Francisco win 7-5 over the Cubs. He went on to smash 13 more homers over 68 games the rest of the way to help the Giants win the National League West. He also added another homer against the Cardinals in the NL Championship Series, which San Francisco lost seven times.

After a difficult year in 1988, for both Mitchell and the Giants as a team, everything came together in ’89. Mitchell and Clark were the most potent two-two punch in Majors history, combining for 70 home run and finishing 1-2 in NL MVP Award votes, with Clark just behind Mitchell. Mitchell had a 1. 023 OPS with 47 home runs, and then hit . 324 had three homers in postseason, as the Giants were swept in the World Series by the cross-bay American’s.

Clark said that he and Mitchell “just clicked.” Clark said that Mitchell and him used to say to each other, “You go, you go.” We would tell the men ahead to come to our base to help us, and I would say, “C’mon boys, let’s go. Boogie Bear, me and the others are ready to rock. ‘”

Mitchell’s 1989 year is legendary in Giants history. He said that he was getting stronger each season, as the summer turned to fall. His dominance in NL pitching was so pronounced that his teammates were determined to test him.

Krukow stated, “I would just go to get a bat. Just the ugly bat.” We’d use a K -55 leftover model, such as 35, or 36, and then wrap the bat using a thin piece, approximately half an inch on the handle. It didn’t feel right at all. We would walk up to him and tell him, “Hey, this bat is for you.”

In this instance, the bat belonged to Giants righthander Rick Reuschel. Mitchell accepted it and walked to plate to face Reds relief pitcher Rob Dibble. Dibble is a member the “Nasty Boy” team that played a crucial role in Cincinnati’s title run the following year. It was the ninth inning at Riverfront Stadium. The game was the nightcap of a doubleheader that took place on June 6.

Mitchell’s second homer of game was a solo effort to left-center. This proved crucial in San Francisco’s win by 3-2.

Mitchell laughed and said that the K -55s were ugly-looking bats Rick Reuschel used to only use to go up there and bat with. “They gave me one and I ended taking Dibble deep with them.”

Kevin Mitchell was the National League MVP 1989, after he posted a 1. 023 OPS with 47 home runs.That was the kind of season it was for Mitchell in 1989.

He said, “Not too many problems went wrong in that year.” “Just that we lost at end.”

The Giants lost at the end, but it was undoubtedly a special season, one in which they won their first pennant in 27 years and saw their slugging left fielder win the NL MVP Award. Mitchell’s 1989 magic was more evident than ever when Smith’s fly ball hit Mitchell’s palm 33 years back.

Mitchell said it was all in one day.

Mitchell recalls that TK [Giants catcher Terry Kennedy] said to Mitchell, “Mitch, you should have turned around and flexed over on ’em,” Mitchell recalled. “I said, “Nah, just want to hit.”

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