September 23, 2009

Talkin' Baseball with Chris Hoiles

The above photo was borrowed from www.yorkblog.com thanks!

Much was made when Cal Ripken, Jr. broke Lou Gehrig’s “Iron Man” streak September 6, 1995. To this day…many say he “saved baseball”.

For the next three years, he did what he did 2632 games prior…he went to work. Last Saturday (September 19) marked the 11th anniversary of Ripken playing the last game of his historic games played streak.

Outside of Ripken himself, only four other players played in both games: Rafael Palmeiro, Brady Anderson and Chris Hoiles for the Orioles…Chili Davis suited up for the opposition (the Angels in the first game and the Yankees in the second).

I had the chance recently to talk with Hoiles, a 2006 inductee to Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame.

HOVG: So, what was it like taking the field as the starting catcher for both game 2131 and 2632 of Ripken’s streak?

HOILES: It was a once in a lifetime thing. Being the starting catcher for those two dates was unbelievable. Everything leading up to that date, you knew it was something special. Watching Cal play during my time there for ten years, you appreciate him for his desire to play and his dedication to the sport to be able to do this.

HOVG: In Ripken’s run to surpassing Gehrig’s record…he delivered at the plate as well. He could have mailed it in, but he went deep three consecutive nights. Was he that amped up or did he just get good pitches to hit?

HOILES: I think it was a matter of both, being amped up and getting good pitches. That’s the way he approached each and every game. He prepared himself for those games, just like he did for any other games.

HOVG: When you joined the Orioles full-time in 1991, Ripken was already well on his way to a Hall of Fame career…but so were some other teammates of yours. Let me throw some names your way and you let me know what your thoughts are of them. I’m a HUGE Baines guy, so, first off…Harold Baines. Hall of Famer?

HOILES: Harold Baines, I feel should be in the Hall of Fame. His numbers compare or are better than a lot of guys that are already in. Being able to do what he did at the DH position, speaks for itself. Very hard thing to do and he excelled at it.

HOVG: After Jorge Posada’s 183 games behind the dish…you caught Mike Mussina more than anyone else out there at 175. What are your thoughts on “Moose” as a pitcher and a potential Hall of Famer?

HOILES: I enjoyed catching “Moose” as long as I did. He is a guy that just knew how to pitch, and later in his career he showed that by having to adjust to what he couldn’t do when he was younger. He won 20 games in his last year! He had an arsenal of pitches that he could throw at any time and throw them for strikes. I think he should be a strong candidate for the Hall of Fame.

HOVG: Rafael Palmeiro…does he still have a chance at Cooperstown or is his steroid suspension going to lead to him being made an example of?

HOILES: I don't know about Raffy. He really screwed up through the whole process. I think the numbers would get him in, but I don't know if he will get in.

HOVG: And since I mentioned Palmeiro…I’ve gotta ask about Brady Anderson. Is a guy like Brady a victim of all the steroid talk because of his 1996 season or is it warranted?

HOILES: Brady was a good hitter. I don't think we would have been able to do what we did as a team without Brady in the leadoff spot. I don't know if he did steroids or not, but he had a great year in 96, and I don't think he ever hit over 20 homers in a season again, but sometimes players just have that one great year and that’s it.

HOVG: You had some success against Randy Johnson. What are your thoughts on the recent 300 game winner?

HOILES: Randy Johnson is a future Hall of Famer. A first ballot inductee I think. He was very intimidating on the mound and had nasty stuff. I don't know how I had so much success off of him, but I saw the ball very well off of him.

HOVG: Is there a certain at bat that sticks out in your mind?

HOILES: One at bat that sticks out is…one game I got a hit off of him in my first at bat and drove in two guys. The next at bat, first pitch, he drilled me in the back of my front leg. The at bat after that, I hit a long home run to left center field of old King Dome.

HOVG: And if that wasn’t big enough…you kinda became known for some big ones while with Baltimore. In 1998, you became only the ninth player to hit two grand slams in one game. Walk me through that. It has to be a thrill.

HOILES: Well, the two grand slam game was special to me, because I went from playing every day to part-time with Lenny Webster. I hadn't played in a few days, and that was my first start in a while. Plus it was in Cleveland, where I have a lot of friends and family come to because of where I grew up. The first one was a 2-0 count split finger from Charles Nagy and the second was a 3-2 fastball from Ron Villone. Very special night, especially after it was all over and I found out that I was only the ninth person to do it. Three of the nine were Orioles and I was the first catcher to do it.

HOVG: Two year prior (May 17, 1996), you ended a pretty crazy game with what some call the “ultimest” grand slam. Full count, two outs, base loaded…down three. What was that like?

HOILES: It was an awesome feeling, knowing that the game was on the line when I came to bat. Nothing like it.

HOVG: On a serious note, you’ve recently resigned from your post as manager of the York Revolution. You led them to the playoffs last season and were the only manager the young franchise ever knew...will we see you again as a manager or coach?

HOILES: I don't know if you will see me on the field again or not. I enjoyed my time in York and enjoyed the manager’s post, but I just don't know right now. I enjoy the game and I enjoy helping young men get better, whether at the major league level or the minor leagues.

HOVG: Tell me about your latest venture. What’s keeping you busy?

HOILES: I also have started a new company with my business partner Adam Gladstone called "The Hoiles-Gladstone Group" or HGG.
Our website was launched recently and is a great way to keep in touch with us on all our events. We are combining professional athletes from all sports with the sports fan. We have our first event October 21-25, a bow hunting trip to Northeast Pennsylvania including Ben McDonald, Will Clark, Jamie Walker and myself. We are looking to get 16 paying customers to join us. We have a Cajun chef cooking all the meals.

Chris Hoiles was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 1986 and made his way to Baltimore via a 1988 trade. He was a career .262 hitter with 151 home runs…his career slugging percentage (.467) is the ninth best in Orioles history.

If anyone is interested in joining the gang on their hunting trip…all the information is available at
their website. Hoiles says that if someone is the first one to sign up…he might even be able to throw a discount their way. And if you do end up going on the HGG hunting trip…drop The Hall a line at hallofverygood@yahoo.com.


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