Two former catchers made headlines yesterday. Both went on later in life to become big-league managers.
And that’s pretty much where the similarity ends.
Tony Pena. Tony Pena is the new manager of the Kansas City Royals. He was a popular catcher during his 17-year-career and pitchers liked working with him. Late in his career he went to the mound and smacked the pitcher with his glove and told him to pay attention.
The downside: He was a notorious free-swinger at the plate, which isn’t what Royals’ hitters need.
The upside: He made some gutsy moves yesterday. The Royals lost, but they hung in there against a talented pitcher they’ve never beat. Down by two runs in the 9th, with two men on and two men out, Tony Pena did something. Actually, he did the last thing anyone would do in that situation: double steal. They pulled it off. The two runners didn’t score and the Royals still lost by two, but they didn’t roll over and play dead.
And he was upbeat. He smiled more in those 9 innings than Tony Muser smiled in his whole managerial career.
Johnny Oates. While Tony Pena prepares for the beginning of his managerial career, Johnny Oates prepares for the end of his life. He has a rare form of brain cancer and a rare attitude about it.
“I don’t think you really understand my situation,” Oates says to the [telemarketer] who called and interrupted his story. “Five minutes is a lot of time to me now, and I’m trying to share it with as many people as possible.”
Oates was most recently the manager of the Texas Rangers. He had previously managed the Baltimore Orioles.