The Nap LaJoie Chapter of S.A.B.R. had the pleasure of hearing Rich Gedman speak at its semi-annual meeting on 11-24-12 in Greenville, R.I.. Actually, Rich did not speak. He rapped, he chit-chatted, he’s an everyday guy who rejected the microphone this day and convinced everyone to pull their seats up close to him like a team leader at Scout Camp.
Gedman is a disarmer and a charmer. Here is a quick anecdote. At one point, a SABR member who is a college professor and known for long, complexly constructed questions, said, to paraphrase, “Rich, I have 2 questions for you but first a comment, I would just like to say…”. That’s when Gedman interrupted, and with a country boy innocence said, “I have to tell you I can only handle one question at a time. I’m really not that –“……..Not that smart is I believe where he was going but I couldn’t hear him over the laughter that had erupted. Moments later, the professor re-asked his question in what he called a simplified form but still strung together a good 150 words in doing so. Followed by a quiet pause. Then Gedman said, “So, what you mean to say is that even when you cut down the number of questions to one singularity it still comes out —.” Again, laughter erupted before Geddy could complete his thought. I think it was “…it still comes out plural.”
Could Geddy be the lost grandson of Casey Stengel ?
Although Rich clearly dislikes the spotlight, which is un-Stegelesque, he has his own way with words and it is both funny & honest.
Funny and honest.
Rich can play a simple country boy but there is more to him. His career was long, profitable financially, and measured in many memories…..
As a player (1980 to 1992), Geddy had trouble hitting Goose Gossage. Rich could always hit a 95 mph heater so he should have been able to hit Goose’s fastball. It was the curve that usually troubled Geddy, and Gossage had a good breaker. Geddy said that Gossage eschewed the curve, throwing heat all the time. Once on the mound, it was mano-a-mano, the chess game, I will throw it by you. Though Geddy felt he should have been able to hit Gossage, he was flummoxed with how the future HOF’er released the ball from the end of his long right arm, so long that the ball seemed to be coming out of the 3rd base dugout. Gossage was all arms and legs. His fastball moved. “There was nothing you could do about it.”
Gedman shared a great story about a home plate collision that occurred next to him, but didn’t put him down. Playing one night in Detroit, Lou Whitaker stood on 2nd base. Kurt Gibson, the All American Flanker from MSU and Mickey Mantle type (translation: linebacker speed & power) soon whacked the ball 410 to the Right Center gap. Tony Armas chased it down, flung a bullet to the relay man, and the relay caught Sweet Lou dead to rights. Geddy tagged him out and all seemed well. Just then….a thump, thump, thump sound was heard. Picture Kevin Costner listening for buffalo on the plains in Dances with Wolves. Here comes Gibson the footballer. Right before he was to make impact with Geddy, the umpire jumps between Geddy & Gibby to call Whitaker out. Kirk knocks the umpire ass over tea kettle. All the ump’s balls spill from his pouch. Geddy, who is completely untouched, tags Gibson out and fires the ball to the pitcher. Gedman thinks he has a unique double play. 4 to 2 and 2-unassisted. The umpire climbs to his feet, sees his balls all over the place and decides one of them must be the one that was in play. Gibson is called safe. Gedman is cheated. The Umpire is bruised.
As the batting Coach with the high-A Salem (Virginia) Red Sox in 2012, Geddy learned that the Sox minor leagues “are so stocked with talent most fans would be surprised.” He mentioned Jackie Bradley, a Centerfielder that batted .359 in Salem and who covers an eye popping amount of the outfield, with range so stunning it is worth the ticket price alone. He cited Xander Bogaerts, the 1b/3B/SS/OF/DH who posted .302, 15, and 64 in 104 games for the Salem Red Sox this year. Tremendous upside.
For those of you following the rise of Orioles pitching phenom Dylan Bundy, the kid who did not allow a hit in his first 40 innings this year, Geddy saw him pitch to his boys and the hype is for real. He has three good pitches and is likely to be a successful MLB hurler. Could even be a dominant one.
Gedman defines the responsibilities of being a batting coach as having 2 responsibilities. There is the teaching. There is the writing of player performance reports for the Sox.
Gedman said teaching kids to understand the difference between playing and competing is key. The kids arrive at high A trained to swing but really do not understand how to compete strategically with all the implications for attitude and strategy. When they get it, it is great to see the light go on. When coaching hitters, he preaches keeping the mind trash-free, getting good swings. “The kids are very tough on themselves. If they go 0 for 4, they think they suck.”.
When asked how he would tell a poor player that he should get into a different line of work, Geddysaid that he would never say it like that. He’d ask the player if he knew “that there are some players on the team that are better than you ?”
Gedman is sensitive. That is apparent in his approach to writing player evaluations. “I try to write the reports without (permanently) killing the player within the organization.”
Gedman was asked how he would coach Ryan Lavarnway, who hit 2 HR’s in his Sept. 2011 call up but has batted .172 in 192 total MLB At Bats thus far. The old catcher said he would talk to RL about his batting, recognizing the attitudinal damage caused by following September HR success with a Spring demotion to the minors, and how that will make you press for the long ball. Relax, do not swing for fences, HR’s are unintentional, no one tries to hit HR’s. Aim for contact, refocus on batting.
When asked what he might say to Daniel Bard, Geddy said he would instruct Bard to stop dealing with the past events that he is turning over in his mind. The game is played on the field, the past is in the past. Focus on the chess match. Tell him gently, kindly, with no bullying.
Keeping the mind clear is the priority. “You wouldn’t believe what people think about at the plate if I told you.”, Geddy said.
When asked about his 3 most memorable accomplishments, Gedman offered simple answers.
He had a long career. He played in an All Star Game. He played in a World Series. He never expected to do all of that. The man is grateful.
For the record, Gedman had a 13 yr MLB and earned $5.2 million according to the good folk at Baseballreference.com. He played in two All Star Games. He was K’d by Gossage in the 9th for the 27th out in the 1985 classic, an AL loss. He caught Dave Righetti & Don Aase in the bottom of the 9 th in the ’86 ASG, an AL win.
He played in 1 World Series. It a historical doozie.
He is humble. He is grateful. He is understated.
He is Gedman.
Here’s hoping they bring him up to Pawtucket, a lot closer to family and home.
We could certainly use the laughs.