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January 31, 2007 – The John Evans Q&A January 31, 2007

Posted by atlanticleaguenews in Uncategorized.

Photo: Mike Ashmore, 2004

John Evans Q&A: The bullpen catcher on everyone’s good guy team, John Evans will be stopping by at 2PM to answer questions from atlanticleaguebaseball.com readers.

This is the eighth in a series of off-season Q&A’s.

After some time in the Houston Astros organization, Evans had short stints with Bridgeport and Newark early in the league’s history.

After that he became one of just a handful of people to get all three Somerset Patriots championship rings, serving as bullpen catcher on the 2001, 2003 and 2005 clubs.

He played in the league when it first started, and he’s caught the majority of pitchers in Patriots history. This guy is a great AL resource, and I expect everyone to take full advantage.

You can sneak your questions in under the wire by sending them to mashmore@patriotsbaseball.com

Make sure you follow the Q&A live at 2PM by refreshing the comments sectuion of the site. And hey, if you’re live on the site, feel free to jump in. I hate saying to leave stuff at the end and sometimes it might not get answered, so feel free to pick your spot and fire away.

This Sucks: Only twice have I ever used that headline on the site. Once when Tony Gsell got released, and today.

Jeff Esposito, director of media relations for the Long Island Ducks, is spending his last day in the office today. Espo’s off to Boston (see: best city in the USA) to pursue other opportunities.

Jeff not only did a lot for the Ducks, but a lot for the league as well, and he’ll be sorely, sorely missed. He was always very helpful whenever I needed to pick up the Ducks perspective on a story, and always made sure I got whatever player I needed for whatever story I was working on. On a team like Long Island, that’s easier said than done.

I consider Jeff a friend, and wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors.

Q&A Schedule: I’m hoping to have some sort of announcement regarding who’ll be up next for a Q&A sometime today, possibly after the current Q&A. I’ve got a few players for sure, I just need to lock down dates and times. – Mike Ashmore, patriotsbaseball.com


1. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 31, 2007

We’re expecting John Evans to stop by in around an hour. Make sure you’re here there by then, and make the refresh button your new best friend.

2. J Evans - January 31, 2007

OK, Mike…I’m online and ready to go.

3. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 31, 2007

Everyone’s been early lately. I like it, I like it.

John Evans, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome aboard, thanks for dropping by. Let’s get this started…

JL writes: John – Thanks for ‘fielding’ these questions today. I would like to know how much interaction the bullpen catcher has with the pitching coach or manager? You would think that the starter and the backup catcher would have interaction more so than the bullpen catcher, but I was wondering after warming a pitcher up, do you talk to the coaching staff about a guys ‘stuff’ that day?

4. J Evans - January 31, 2007

Not a whole lot of interaction during game day with regards to the starting pitcher (unless there was a specific concern — such as an injury). You have to remember that there’s a considerable difference between what I would see in the bullpen and what the catcher saw during “live” action. A bullpen catcher will see relief pitchers more on a daily basis (and the starters during side bullpen sessions) which the starting catcher won’t see. When I was with the Patriots, I had a considerable amount of interaction with Count and Sparky before, during, and after games…I think a lot of it has to do with how much confidence the coaching staff has in your ability to evaluate a pitcher’s condition.

5. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 31, 2007

As a bullpen catcher, do you go to Spring Training with the team?

6. J Evans - January 31, 2007

Yes. One of my primary responsibilities was always to take some of the “burden” off of the the full-time players. Certainly, then, it made more sense for them to take extra batting practice for example, instead of catching bullpens during spring training. Also, one of the other tasks was throwing batting practice, so having an extra arm for Spring Training was always welcome.

7. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 31, 2007

What’s funny is that John’s going to think this is my question…

Did you ever dream about being activated, if a major injury occurs to the starter, and they need a backup catcher quickly?

8. J Evans - January 31, 2007

Sure, Mike, that wasn’t a “planted” question (inside joke, everyone). Actually, one of the more “inside” stories about my time with the Patriots involved this type of situation. In 2002, we had a horrific rash of injuries that forced Sparky to alternate our two catchers (Sean Mulligan and Jason Fennel) between third base and behind the plate for an entire week. Only problem was that neither player had played 3rd even in college, let alone professionally. Give them credit, they did their best, but still averaged almost two errors a game. Anyway, we were getting new players for a weekend series, but Sparky had seen enough and wanted me to start at 3rd on the Thursday before they came in. I used to regularly take ground balls during batting practice and Sparky knew I could field (he also knew I couldn’t hit, but he didn’t care). Up until almost 6:45 pm my name was on the lineup card. Unfortunately, the front office refused to activate me. Yes, I was disappointed, but more so in that I’ve always felt there were various opportunities to help over the course of the six years I was there.

9. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 31, 2007

Easily one of my favorite Patriots stories.

I guess being a bullpen catcher would be a dream job of sorts for a lot of people. You’re in uniform, you’re a part of the team, you get to live “the life.”

Another interesting story might be just how you got the gig as a bullpen catcher in the first place…

10. J Evans - January 31, 2007

Like anything else, it’s all about who you know…for me, it was Charlie Dowd (former Bridgeport GM).

I met Charlie in the early 90’s when I was looking for a place to play and he was GM of a team in Salinas CA. This was before the independent leagues started, so jobs were few and far between. Needless to say, I continued my relationship when Charlie went to New Haven. I had been coaching at the college level, so when the league started, it was a relatively easy transition for me to go to Bridgeport to help out. Then came the intro to Kevin Reynolds in Newark in 1999. In 2000, I ran into Darrin Winston (who I’ve known since high school) who was with the Patriots…he introduced me to Sparky, and the rest, as they say, is history.

11. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 31, 2007

2006 was the first season in a long while where you haven’t been in uniform. What have you been up to since picking up that third ring in Nashua?

12. qwackedup - January 31, 2007

Obviously being the bullpen catcher can’t be a lucrative position. Do you have other roles with the team or do you just work at home games and have a full time job?

13. J Evans - January 31, 2007

And, yes, on a certain level, that was definitely a “dream” job…I got a chance to do one of the things that I absolutely love in a great environment with some great people.

14. J Evans - January 31, 2007

As for 2006, I spent the majority of my time with my family (my wife, Jennifer, and I welcomed a beautiful baby girl, Natalie, in November of 2005). We got a chance to go see a few games and look forward to more in 2007.

15. qwackedup - January 31, 2007

Not to move from the Q&A but quick ? for Mike, you giving up writing to become new Ducks media relations manager?

16. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 31, 2007

Nope. But my note is about that…

17. J Evans - January 31, 2007

To give you an idea of the money part, I was payed the same per diem as the batboys…so, no, it wasn’t lucrative. Some guys that I know are full-time employees of organizations (usually handling a sales rep job), but I always worked a full-time job in addition to the Patriots gig.

18. qwackedup - January 31, 2007

You wrote personal, guess you meant personell

19. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 31, 2007

(This is a multi-part question, so I’ll break it down part-by-part rather than have one big blob. You can look at this however you want…whether it be the stadium overall, the bullpen, whatever works best.)

JF writes: Can you rate the bullpens around the league (who cares about the clubhouses!) in terms of:

Facilities (indoor and outdoor)

20. qwackedup - January 31, 2007

Is there anyone you have caught that made you think, wow, this guy’s stuff is amazing why isn’t he in the show?

21. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 31, 2007

No, I meant personal. I’ll have it up after this is done, I just didn’t want that to take away from this. Ask me about that stuff after this is done if you want…

22. J Evans - January 31, 2007

Excluding Somerset, I’d rank the bullpens as follows:

1. Camden. Still good view off the field and was off the foul line enough not to be in play.
2. Bridgeport. Only problem was that if you sat on the provided bench, you could actually put your foot into fair territory.
3. Lancaster. Nice proximity to fans.
4. Nashua. Believe it or not…lighting was not great though.
5. Long Island. Behind the left-field wall, but they built a little life-guard stand to watch the game.
6. AC. Horrible lighting.
7. Newark. The absolute worst. Could only watch the game through the small fence which was on a bad angle. Phones never seemed to work, either.

23. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 31, 2007

I’ll fire off another one after that fan question…

24. J Evans - January 31, 2007

A couple of names that come to mind who had had MLB experience: Steve Faltisek and Scott Aldred. Matt Schwager had great stuff for only getting to Single A…never completely understood why he didn’t get higher. Of course, there was always the flip side of guys who I was amazed had as much service time/experience as they did.

25. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 31, 2007

Getting back to the multi-part question, I guess I can take the rest of the parts and spin it into a stadium question then.

Based on this stuff, and I guess taking the bullpens into account, how would you rank the aforementioned stadiums?

Amenities (bathroom, or pulling a Manny Ramirez?)
Access to perks (food, drink, etc)
Interaction with fans (good, bad and crazy)
Wacky stunts and local traditions

26. qwackedup - January 31, 2007

You bring up an interesting point talking about lighting. Have you ever gone to catch someone who throws darts and worried about not being able to pick up the ball with the poor lighting?

27. J Evans - January 31, 2007

List doesn’t change much (again, I’ll omit Somerset)

1. Camden. Fantastic view. Clubhouse could have been bigger, but not bad. Good indoor batting cages. Close to fans, but not too close.
2. Lancaster. Great atmosphere and fans. Only problem was the entrance to the field was down the right field line, so you had to walk across the outfield to get to the visitor’s bullpen (no chance of a Manny!)
3. Bridgeport. Probably more of a sentimental favorite.
4. Long Island. Good clubhouse, but you had to walk through the stands to get to the field (do they still do that?).
5. Newark. Good-sized clubhouse. Bad bullpen. Good fans. Bad area (had my car broken into twice)
6. Nashua. Horrible clubhouse but scenic park.
7. AC. A pit…plain and simple. Never saw so many dead bugs and mildew in a clubhouse. Never ate the food there either!

Honorable mention: In 2000, the Lehigh Valley team actually played at an American Legion field with no lockerroom facilities.

28. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 31, 2007

I guess we’ll wrap it up with the fan question. John’s already been good enough to give us an hour of his time, I don’t want to keep him too long.

29. J Evans - January 31, 2007

Addressing the lighting question — ABSOLUTELY! Also, backdrop in general was sometimes and issue (Somerset was sometimes a problem because of all the signage). Actually, the velocity wasn’t so much a problem as movement (see Tim Christman’s or Scott Aldred’s slider, although O do recall a Shane Heams-fastball that I never saw and went buzzing by my ear). Nothing more embarrasing than letting a ball get by you and having an umpire have to stop the game!

30. J Evans - January 31, 2007

Mike, if you’ve got one more good one, I’ve got a few minutes…

31. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 31, 2007

A good reporter never has a shortage of questions. A shortage of good questions, however? Might be a different story.

What do you miss most about the game, and is there any chance of you getting back into it?

32. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 31, 2007

We’ll let John get to that one when he has time…

Thanks so much to John Evans for stopping by and answering some of the fans questions and, of course, a few of mine as well. I hope everyone ejoyed the unique perspective he provided, that’s really a side of the game that a lot of people have no idea about.

If anyone has any more questions for John, leave them here and he’ll answer them if he has time.

John, if there’s anything else you want to say when you come back, feel free to fire away.

33. J Evans - January 31, 2007

Probably the overall atmosphere. Because of my role/responsibilities (part coach, part employee, part “one of the guys”) I was a bit on the outskirts of things, but part of a whole (does that make sense?). I definitely miss the bullpen (and clubhouse) camaraderie — I did create and have maintained some good friendships (Kirk Griffin and his family were at our house this past weekend for dinner). And, I definitely miss learning more about the game (everything from the humorous anecdotes to the strategies).

As for the last part of your question, I’m not sure. I never regret spending time with my family, but, being that I’m still local, who knows? I’ll wait for Pat McVerry to call.

Thanks, Mike. I enjoyed sharing…keep up the good work!

34. Sumosid - January 31, 2007

Pat Daneker news. Pat’s a nice guy. Wish him the best.

Busch Rounds Out Staff

Vipers Field Manager Mike Busch has just returned from a 3 day Free Agent camp in the Dominican Republic and has announced that his coaching staff for the 2007 season is now complete.

The Vipers new Pitching Coach and Director of Player Procurement is former major leaguer Pat Daneker. Born and raised in Williamsport, PA, home of little league baseball Pat was drafted by the Boston Red Sox right out of high school. He decided against turning pro and went to the University of Virginia instead. In 1997 he was taken in the 5th round by the Chicago White Sox. Pat played in the White Sox system at every level including the big leagues (1999) where he posted a 4.20 ERA. He also played four seasons of Triple-A ball for the Chicago Cubs and Toronto Blue Jays. Daneker finished his 10 year pro career with the Newark Bears of the Atlantic League where he was named Pitcher of the Year during the 2005 season.

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