A Catcher and His Path to The Big Leagues with Rob Bowen

Welcome to The Baseball Awakening Podcast where we dive into the raw, unfiltered, unsexy side of player development.

Guest Bio and Info:

Rob Bowen is a former big league catcher, with the Minnesota Twins, San Diego Padres, Chicago Cubs, and Oakland A’s.

Twitter: @Redalertcrew

Website: Red Alert Baseball

Summary:

On this episode, Host Geoff Rottmayersits down with Rob Bowen, and we learn about his path to the big leagues.

Show Notes:

In this conversation we discuss the following things:

  • Rob youth baseball days and the multiple sports that he played.
  • Taught himself to switch hit at the age of 16 to improve his draft status.
  • Sacrifices he made to improve his hitting and catching skills.
  • The process he went about to develop his throwing arm and hit throw down to second base.
  • How his high school coach played a role in letting him develop the left side hitting.
  • The emotions of getting drafted and going on to play professional baseball.
  • The struggle of the minor leagues and trying to figure it out.
  • Development of his routines and how it improved everything else.
  • How he felt that today technology could have sped up the learning curve to developing his swing and throwing motion.
  • What hard work and what is not hard work.
  • Developing a game plan with the pitcher on how they will get guys out.
  • What it means to be disciplined and know how to sit on a pitch.
  • Take bit and pieces of information from everyone and create it and make it your own.
  • Everyone has your best interest in mind, they don’t know what they don’t know.
  • When and how he figured himself out as a hitter.
  • Lessons he learned being around some of the best in the world.
  • If you can’t hit the fastball, you can’t play at a higher level.
  • How he hates being average and wants to be the best at everything.
  • His transition from being a professional athlete to being in law enforcement.

Website:www.baseballawakening.com

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Email Address:geoff@baseballawakening.com

Transcribe:

Geoff:

On today’s show, we interview Rob Bowen and we talk about the process that he used to develop himself into a professional athlete and the sacrifices that he made.

Intro:

Welcome to another episode of The Baseball Awakening Podcast where we dive into the raw, unfiltered, unsexy side of player development. Get ready for some knowledge bombs with your host, Geoff Rottmayer.

Geoff:

Welcome to The Baseball Awakening Podcast, I am Geoff Rottmayer and today we are sitting down with Rob Bowen, a former big league catcher for the Minnesota Twins, San Diego Padres Chicago Cub as well as the Oakland a’s. Rob, how are you, sir?

Rob:

Pretty good. How about yourself?

Geoff:

I’m doing great. I appreciate you coming on. Listen, I want to jump right into this. You know, you’re a guy who has had the opportunity to play at the big league level and for obviously like anyone else, you started out at a young age, but can you kinda talk about your youth days in Fort Wayne and how you develop your love for the game of baseball?

Rob:

Yeah, it’s completely different how it is nowadays. Baseball, but baseball career, you know, I played little league all the way up until I was 12 and I didn’t play travel ball and all that extra stuff. Uh, when I was a kid, I didn’t start travel ball, I think it was 13. Um, so around that time when i was growing up, so, you know, everybody says for the love of the game, as you know, we’d just go out and I did only played 20 games a year, as far as the little league schedule, but you know, we would always get together after the games to go play and throw and go hit together. Um, and that’s kinda where we basically learned some of our kind of instincts as we, as we grew up playing is we’d always just go out there and mess around with it, try different things. So, you know, that’s where the love kept going, you know, it didn’t really turn into like a business deal, profession field at a young age. So I think that’s what really kept me hungry, uh, coming up to my amateur days.

Geoff:

Nice and where you a multisport guy or what the just baseball.

Rob:

Yeah, I was uh, I was a baseball, football, basketball guy up to middle school then as soon as I got into high school. I had a situation where I had to pick between football and baseball because I played it a fall league in South Bend, Indiana starting my freshman year, so I can play a couple more games. Of course, it interfered with football. So I do have to pick a sport and uh, fortunately I picked the right one.

Geoff:

Nice and would you say, that that has helped you into developing into a professional athlete.

Rob:

Oh, without a doubt. Uh, you know, this day and age, you know, like I said, technology is different than the Internet different now, so it is a little bit easier to, you know, to find some, uh, some workout stuff, some agility type stuff, uh, that you could do more. Everybody says sports specific, but movement is movement. Um, in my opinion when it comes to work now, but, you know, that’s why I did multiple sports. I liked playing the other ones. I love baseball, but I like the other sports. Uh, Kevin competitive during the off season. Um, you know, the biggest thing has kept me in shape. You know, basketball was really great at running around. Um, you know, I didn’t have all the money in the world so I can go out, hire personal trainers to go out and train all that stuff on my own. So that’s what sports did for me was it kept my competitive juices flowing in the off seasons and it also kept me in shape. I think it’s kind of both. I think you have a lot of it that’s instilled in you, um, but I think you can also, you can also train a little bit out of it, um, and how you prepare and how you train a. But obviously I think most of those going to come from, from your upbringing and just being born with it. I just, you know, everybody sees, everybody calls somebody a natural competitor, you look back and they’ve always been like that since they were small, but there are, there are some things you can do to kind of fine tune some things. But a large part, like I said, I think it’s mostly, it’s mostly natural

Geoff:

Yeah, so in your youth days were you a guy that kind of stood out physically. Or were you kind of a late bloomer types? Can you, can you talk a little bit about that?

Rob:

I guess I guess I’m kind of both, it sounds kinda weird, but, um, I was always, I always had a really good arm because I did a lot of stuff, i threw a lot and threw a lot of long toss and I was a kid and stuff like that and nobody wants to do and I really stuck out with my arm. I was like very good hitter, but of course, you know, hitting different nowadays. Homers and all that stuff. I only sit a high average extra base hits. I would hit some homeowners when they get ahold of it and a certain spot and it flashes. But the consistency, it just wasn’t there yet, but you can see that it can, it can come with time for learning how to execute the plate better. Uh, you know, for me that was a very, very high contact high. I was everywhere I played. But as I got older I started working more and more. Um, and that’s why I taught myself how to switch yet when I was 16, uh, because of my arm strength because I was waiting to be friends and stuff worked and it was my biggest attribute was I outworked anybody. That’s why I continue to get better and better and continue to stay above everybody because I just, I just got worked. Anybody that’s where, that’s where I think the biggest attribute to my success came was I just refused to say to myself, you know, I’m, I’m, I’m good right here. You’re not good enough. It’s like, I hate that word good enough. The, I don’t want to be just good enough. I want to be better than everybody else.

Geoff:

Nice and at what age did you say, you know what I am pretty good at this and this is what i think i want to do, I’m to put my head down and I’m going to work , at what age did you say baseball was what you wanted to pursue.

Rob:

They were a little kid, but I guess realistically I’m kind of eighth grade going into freshman year. I was getting, I was getting letters from colleges already, just coming up a couple of posts that said, mentioned something to my father about the prospects of me being able to be a prototype player because I was taller, you know, and I’m pretty good build strength and the ability to contact baseball. So they saw a lot of opportunities in my body. Um, so it was natural that, okay, anybody wants to do it? I wanted to do it. I hadn’t had to drive and starting to see now, okay, this can become a reality. It’s, you know, things are starting to line up, but if I continue to do this and continue to see the fruits of all labor pay off, you know, again, it’s given me even more drawn to keep going in my workouts and in my attitude and my sacrifices I did during my daily life that I could do that. So I’d probably say around 15, 15 year mark, um, eighth grade going into freshman year

Geoff:

Nice and you said you did alot of long toss, where did that come from. Did someone say here look if you want work on your arm you need to long toss or is this something that you kind of figured out on your own? You know, how did you figure it out that the long talk with what you need to do?

Rob:

There’s always, it’s always been around. I know there’s a lot, there’s a lot of new stuff now with, with, you know, uh, specifically with a lot of ball work and everything, but you know, the work, the cuff late work has always kind of been around and the long toss has always been around, you know, listening to guys back, playing it back then, but it was still on, it talks about it a lot, you know, during that time when I was growing up it was, you know, a lot of that work was, is really kind of reserved for those who were hurt and they were coming back. But when you see them come back, they will come back stronger and you start to sit there and figure things out. And that’s what, uh, that’s what I really liked. Allen, is you watch that stuff and you’re like, there’s a reason why they’re coming back stronger now. So doing more work than they’ve ever done. So then, you know, people always got a prehab back when I was a kid and growing up and uh, you know, he was going through a modeling and some of the big reasons I talked about a prehab and the shoulder workouts and every night. So that’s where I really start to see a lot more of that. So it kind of confirmed some things that we were doing as a, as a kid and I was coming up through amateur ball is, okay, this is making sense

Geoff:

Nice and whenever you were 15 and and started to say ok this might be a possiblitly for you to put in the type of work that you did. There were obviously sacrifices that you made. Can you talk a little bit about what maybe what’s some of those sacrifices were and then how much work you have to put in

Rob:

Yeah and this is one of those things go and clients and all that kind of stuff. As you know, the word sacrifice and committed. Um, to me it goes hand in hand. A lot of people say they’re committed, but when it comes down to it, are you willing to sacrifice some things that would typically do as a kid, you know, go out and have fun on a Friday night, go to a football game on Friday night, you know, I have to go out and, you know, I got a girlfriend and it’s telling me down and I want to go hang out with her. But, you know, I, I sacrificed a lot of that and I went to a party here and there. But on Friday nights I would go to the baseball facility before, before school, I’d wake up at 4:00, I’d go to the gym and I’ll lift. Um, and then after, after school I got a job at a baseball place just so I could hit every day and I would go there and passed out tiger. So the batting cage, I go there and knock out my homework and then whatever it be quiet there. And a lot of people because I go in and I started hitting. I started hitting off a tee and it often was the pitching machines that were in there. It was just those things that I tried to align myself with what I wanted to do with my career in baseball, you know, a lot of people call it crazy, but at the same time. And that’s what passion is. Passion is, is crazy and refer what you want to do. And some people see that that lane, some people don’t. But you know, like I said, I can think where the competitive drive and desire, I think some of those natural form of character traits that are in people and you know, fortunately I can thank my parents for that from our upbringing and the way they raised me in not so, uh, either honestly, without that I would not be going in today

Geoff:

Yeah, so whener you were hitting in the cages, were you always able to kind of have a plan knowing what you woere working on ?, or, or did you just go in there and get reps? How did you understand what you need to, what to work on or what the more did knowing that you need to kind of get some reps. and

Rob:

again, back then everybody. So fortunately these days with what, what they have access to the Internet was there, but it wasn’t their recordings. I used to record, that was a big chipper Jones thing growing the guys I really looked up to and I would actually record their swings off of vhs and I’m sure most young people probably don’t know what a vhs is, but that’s actually a tape that we used back in the day. But I would go back and watch the grainy, slow motion of the swings that I would try to mimic some of those things. And actually you asked me in high school I had to the Jones, you know, it made me hit better and you know, I, I took a, I took a few lessons as a kid and then as I got older, past 14, I didn’t really take um, individual lessons. I hit myself and I’d go out and take a couple of hundred songs from each side of the plate every night. And I would just, you know, try to focus on, just hit hard. I was all my heart and I didn’t really have as precise to the point as I gave when I got into the program and got some really good coaches. Um, but honestly, you know, I, I was ahead of the curve, um, within respect a lot of people because I will have big league hitters and tried to do the things that they did. So that obviously kind of prepared me a little bit more than just a typical person in there trying to, you know, just trying to hit the. Hit

Geoff:

you, what type of work went into that development at the catcher?

Rob:

No, he would actually go out and lay a trap face and I would try to throw the ball into the trashcan after rep after rep and I would do at least 30 to 40 a to where it becomes second nature and close your eyes and throw it and you’d be there time after time as I got older and all the stuff I did it for. Consistency is for that, you know, what people call is, um, but the, um, out to come back to me. But the consistent again and getting there and making the play and executing each time, that’s what I see with a lot of young kids nowadays. They don’t do enough reps and most of the memories, but I was what I was thinking of. They don’t do enough reps in controlled environments to build that muscle memory so that way they don’t have to think. It just becomes a reaction and that’s really helped me and it’s going out there and you know, you don’t have to air it out every single time, um, to have something be productive, you know, that’s, that’s the other one too, is that I did as a kid because I would try to throw it as hard as I could and I do it for a long time until I, of course I wouldn’t hurt after a couple of days I go back out there and do it again. And I learned to kind of pace myself a wagon, do more reps and become better. Kind of checked myself in the mirror and kind of watch that swing a little bit. Uh, I got more into the visualization, um, towards the, I guess the middle part of my career coming up, uh, as I got around some coaches and really start to understand the mental side of it and the approach and a plan of creating, you know, creating a better sense of yourself being ready at the point with your mind

Geoff:

in terms of, you know, plane. Well, you know, in terms of, you know, developing you into getting you ready for the pro ball level.

Rob:

My head coach, Keith Potter, a lot of credit. I’m at homestead, uh, for this main reason is I, my sophomore year is when I, when I started to switch, hit my freshman year, I came up and I started playing. I’m kind of back and forth. I was on Varsity and towards the end of the year us pretty much on bars there the entire time, you know, splitting time with a, uh, with the other catcher. But after the freshman year, I was last seen right hand decided that I wanted to commit to learning the artists because I thought it would help my draft status and become of better a better player towards the draft and everything you see with Manchester baseball in numbers and of course now, which is just basically, um, you know, everybody is so keen on matchups and seeing that also back in the right hand or left hand and I was a right hand versus right hand. So I was like, well, I know that may help my ability to get drafted a little bit better if I can do it. So after that fresh freshman year as I went up to south, really teach myself as you get in there and do the reps. and I told my coach, honestly at this point I was pretty good player. Being able to play as a freshman at their varsity. Um, at first I think was kind of taken back a little bit because obviously, you know, being a coach and a competitive, you don’t want your employer to take a step back from that point of realizing, okay, this hitter may go down a little bit and on my team may suffer, but he stuck with me and I had a, I guess you can say in terms of high school it was a song. So not a great year with that learning the switch because I was doing it at the varsity level as a sophomore and after that season and during my summer ball season, it really started to click because I started getting. I got all those advanced faster. There’s a high school season and summer ball season they really started to click and obviously after that, you know, the rest is history. My junior year having obviously a very, very good year, my junior year set the I was batting average right there off on stuff. Um, at that time in my high school. And um, you know, being able to go and playing all these different things that I’ve done in high school with team USA and area codes and going down and pointing South America, lots of that to my case fight. Let me do that. Um, so it was a, it was a different process than what a lot of people are used to open that Fort Wayne area with the attention that I got in with the ability to play all the different things I got to play. Because when you said it is now, it wasn’t like that back then. So it was a big deal for us to go play for team USA because they didn’t have to do now. It was, it was not as developed as it was. So, uh, so obviously there was a season and a, the game was just starting. Uh, they were, they were still, obviously they’re still based in Iowa that you mostly just local tournaments and they were trying to get there. They’re feeling down and obviously we see what the empire they are today, but

Geoff:

developing that left side because you know, did, did, did you give up some of the right side or left side rep or you know, kind of talking about what kind of work went into that.

Rob:

We had a garage which is a lot like the same kind of concept, so I would do that and just take hacks and hacks and hacks and I did it the old school way sitting there and I’m this, I’m going to swing it out. I’ll swing by way through this problem and uh, you know, so obviously it took a little bit more time because when I was young and I didn’t have all the access to all the tools and all the cool gizmos that are out now to help you speed that pace up. So it was just this girl fashion grock hard work. I’m trying to hone that skill.

Geoff:

Do you think that the way you did it is kind of the way to go?

Rob:

No, I definitely was having all access and the information that’s out today, there’s a lot of good information. There’s a lot of terrible information out there that with with what we have today is you can speed up the development process and your ability to get better easily, but here’s the thing to tell people, this is, this is you can’t find this on the Internet. It’s only inside of you. You have to be willing to put in the work and you have to be willing to be committed and make those sacrifices because this is now like a pick it up and don’t do it. As long as I feel, I guess I’ll go for an hour, I’ll do it now. You got to saturate your life on it and then you will see the fruits of your labor. People just don’t understand what hard work really is. People think hard work is when I’m told I have to work hard. That’s not hard work and that’s not sacrifice sacrifices. Doing things when you’re not expected to do it and they’re going out and doing it so people have kind of a false impression of working hard and being committed nowadays thinking that, oh, I’m doing all this work and all that stuff and they still can’t, um, you know, they haven’t been totally committed and their process element and just their sheer work volume is just not there and that’s the separator from all these people who take it to the falling further and further into end of that. Megan to the big leagues,

Geoff:

you know, really understand what that means. You’re out of high school and you get drafted by the twins and now you report. What was that like? You know, you put in all this work, you finally get drafted. What was the emotion like? What would the thought profit like? Can you, can you talk a little bit about that time?

Rob:

Tiny pond up in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the down to Fort Myers and I became a really, really small. Everybody’s the same. There it is. Everybody can hit balls really far and were going to get through hard and now all of a sudden I was like, oh my goodness, there’s a pretty big, pretty big world out there that has a lot of the players. Um, so kinda my mind and opened my eyes to, to find out, okay, how do I, how do we get above these guys, you know, what do I have to do now to try to separate myself from someone who throws around as hard as I do, where can hit the ball of, as far as I do, I’ll find that piece that makes it system. Um, so, and this is what tomorrow is all about, is all about, is trying to find a way to create a routine to you can find a way to be more consistent every single time because everybody throws 95, but how, how can you throw a 95 and constantly get people out constantly air strikes and not be in a position where I was walking somebody where if I’m a hitter, you know, how do I piece that together where I look awesome at 5:00 thing bp. But at 7:30 or at 9:00 at night and the seventh ante I’m striking out, or how can I figure out and put that 5:00? Um, and that’s, that’s what is the, is all about, is figuring out that part. Um, and that’s where, that’s where I got around some good coaches and all of a sudden they had a pretty good head. I was pretty mentally prepared for it because you are out on your own at 18 years old down in Fort Myers, Florida. Really, really nice vacation spot. Paying my own bills, bouncing in college, kind of cuddled up in a college atmosphere in the real world. You’ll lose this job here. Um, so there was no pillow fall. You fall and you’re going to hit hard on the ground if you fail. So you need to mentality for that also.

Geoff:

Obviously you did well. You did pretty well. So, but you know, you also came to, it made you reality. Uh, you know, this is kind of this kind of tough, you know, tough to them when I’m used to. So you know, you are experiencing more failure than slumps, you know, the, can you kind of talk about that for pew where you’re kind of like, Jesus, this is different. I got, I got some things that I got to figure it out.

Rob:

Lousy in high school that you go into pro ball and your before he had a good day. So, you know, the, it’s the realization that failure is only one for 30. That’s still only one for three or two for four years now it’ll be pretty good career if you do that the rest of your life. Um, so that was the hardest part for me is one on one for 15 to 23 days you can have and all of a sudden I was just like, how in the world am I gonna be able to get myself out of this hole dug and you know, again, I go to the routine and your process of, you know, trying to find something to keep you consistent. Um, because if you just totally cave into that and it stopped working or overworked and do the wrong things, trying to get yourself up and trying to go four for, we’re going to have one coming up. The next thing you know, you’re another over 10 because you’re trying to get those five hits in one a bat and you know, you just don’t know how to work yourself out of that. And that’s where the experience comes in as you know, been around a while, but even more as a young guy not having that, that your level of really going through it and understanding it and had the experience of it is get around people who have done it before, get around good coaches who can help coach you through that process along with some of the clinical stuff. But uh, but that’s why I’m a big guy and I believe that they approach takes time and it takes your mechanics when it comes to hitting him. Really comes to a lot of stuff in baseball. But that’s the. But that’s the biggest part is, is that a, is that mentality there?

Intro:

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Geoff:

Right. I agree. You know, when, when you were talking about developing your routine that 18 years old, you know, how did you start that process? You know, obviously you didn’t have. And, and maybe maybe I’m wrong, correct me if I’m wrong, but a fine tune routine to this one I’m going to do to keep you from overworking because that’s Kinda the natural tendency we think that we have to do more and more and more and more. So how did you develop that routine and did you have it figured out?

Rob:

People are looking for the magic bullet, the silver bullet. Give it to me so that way I can do it and I don’t have to worry about it, you know, they want to go onto the internet and figure out a solution right there and take it on. I don’t have to worry about it, but it’s, you know, so I was a lot of people in a rude awakening and that’s not, that doesn’t happen like that. Everybody’s case is different because of their mental ability, physical ability, you know, chances lock, all that kind of fun stuff. So there’s not one, there’s not one way. Um, there’s, there’s a way that’s what you have to find, you have to find your way and you know, a lot of it goes to trial and error and obviously, you know, it, it can help with, with coaches, you know, trying, you know, going through their experiences, you know, this is what I’ve experienced. So this is what I’ve experienced and this is why I think a lot of people are going to get hurt also. And when I, I went through personally also with my swing is, is they try to, you know, they try to force somebody else’s way into their way with out any change and you know, how to do everything. And that always doesn’t work either, especially mentally, but you know, even more, you know, with mechanics of it. Uh, so that’s where, you know, I got some really good advice from John Russell who, um, I’m not sure what we use now know he, he caught back in the day, uh, when he was a Texas a very, very, uh, he was with the orals for a long time as a bench coach. And he told me one thing is, you’re going to get a lot of information from a lot of different people and if you try to do every single thing that somebody tells you, you’re going to fail because you’re going to have so many people telling you what to do is you have to take bits and pieces of what people tell you that work for you and the other pieces that don’t work for you. Forget it and use those bits and pieces of each person and make it your own and create your own. And that really stuck with me. And it was, you know, when I did that, um, and you know, especially for my swing is my career took off. And I went from Aa Aaa up to the big leagues and went up and down for a little bit and then obviously I stayed up there for awhile. Um, so that’s, that’s what really helped me come along. And obviously as that happened, my routine got better with my, when I got my play got better, my ability got better and ultimately my mechanic has got better, but my, I consistently got better. And that’s what, that’s what got me there. You say, okay, all the people they should have my best interests in mind, you know, though they might have the, now we’re sitting here with Megan that they might have the silver bullet to get me to the next step or the net. And then, you know, the next thing you know, you’re trying everything and now you’re, you doing, you’re not doing the thing that you need to be doing.

Geoff:

So, so that the conversation, you know, a tough conversation. So how would you advise, you know, an 18 year old kid and he getting ready to report, you know, how would you, what would the conversation be like with him to stay? Listen man, you’re going to get, you know, all this information, you know, be respectful and at the end of the day, you know, do what you gotta do.

Rob:

You can look in the back of my baseball card, you see the numbers as you see my numbers in the and you see the drastic change at that point, you know, they wanted to change my entire swing completely and turning into something that I wasn’t after. I had some good success and really good at success at the minor league level and completely changed everything that worked there. And that’s obviously, you know, when you saw that change and when I started to go back up, there’s one I got that advice from John and understanding that and realizing, changing, changing back to, not to say my previous life but a lot of stuff that I did my way, but also instilling a couple different things for different people to make myself get there. And that’s where you know, I, and I still tell people today that I work with is you’re going to get a lot of information. A lot of stuff will make sense for you. And some of that stuff won’t make sense that you got another person sending out information that does not make sense for you. Make sense for them. Um, so again, you know, each individual has their own journey. You can’t take everything from someone who’s doing here and all of a sudden think that that’s going to make your journey better. It just doesn’t, not everybody, everybody’s a human being, which means everybody’s different. And that’s where you have to learn to kind of navigate and pick up some things, some traits and tips, some do’s and some don’ts. A that’s going to help you personally. Um, and then there’s always going to be confrontation or they won’t say complication but themselves to be some contested, um, information that you may go. And that’s where, you know, you have to, you have to sit down, sit down and actually have a conversation. And that’s why, you know, I credit some of, some of the best coaches I was around is I can sit there and talk with them and we can go through and I can actually tell them this is what I feel doing this, this is what I, you know, this was lie, I’m not, I’m just not being successful this because I’m trying to do this and not do that. And the best coaches that I had didn’t get mad at me is they sat there, okay, well that’s fine. Well let’s, let’s, let’s work at different. Let’s look at different routes or let’s try something different and see what you, what you get. And, and again, not all coaches are created equal, you know, coaches are also just like players. They’re trying to get to the ultimate level two, they do have your best interest in mind and I totally understand that. But at the same time they are trying to get to the next level and they want you to do good. But you know, then again, not every coach has that, that ability to connect with a player or maybe how to, to, you know, to preach a certain point to get to that player. Uh, so that’s where, that’s where, you know, you just kind of had to kind of navigate those, you know, those rough waters at times as you work your way through amateur ball and go to college and the pro ball, um, and through the big league level

Geoff:

that you kind of started to really understand who you were or the hitter.

Rob:

Yeah. I saw myself in a different light to where I was. I was more individualized instead of, you know, this is what I am. I’m somebody said I’m going to be this and I can’t be there. I’m going to be me. And that’s what really changed. And I’d see, okay, there were some pieces of that that are a piece of that that are in me, but I’m not all of that. Because then again gets where that’s where a lot of people have failure is they try to do something entirely of someone else where they just need a piece of that too. And that’s where I, you know, I see the instructions out today and a lot of information on today and it’s like if you don’t do everything, you’re not going to be successful. I’ll call bs on it because I played with a lot of really good guys. Good different opinions. Um, you know, I, I played with some guys I thought slowing down that are in the hall thing. If I saw some guys that tried to drive to a ball or drive up to evolve this, what worked for them and that’s where I get upset when I see people trying to tell somebody they have to do it this way. Because most of those people who say that never had a good career and the guys that I was around that were really good coach isn’t really successful. Successful players don’t care how you do it, you just have to learn to do it. And there’s a different way of doing that too. Stupid to be successful. So that’s what. That’s what hurts a lot of people in the game. Okay.

Geoff:

So what was the minor league in terms of developing you as a catcher? What were, what were the thing that they said you really need to work on in order for you to of get to the big league level? At the catcher?

Rob:

That was my mechanically based stuff. That was. I never had any coaches call to me when I was in the. When I was an amateur ball. Literally I called no games, so I started in and again that goes back to what’s missing and I hate to say sandlot baseball, but there’s no sandlot baseball going on plan and trying different things. Kids are robots nowadays to where they can’t do anything unless you tell them that we were different. We went out there and did stuff inside different things and learn different things. So we became instinctual that way. You know, instincts are can be taught and they’re taught by experiences and that’s where you learn that stuff in there and go through it and go through that process and that’s where the, the pitch calling and you know, just getting into the middle of the Nova and doing it yourself because as much as everybody says, I’ll tell them, I’ll explain why I did it. Well that’s not, they’re not gonna learn from that. They are only going to truly learn and develop that experience by being in a heated moment. Now had anybody telling him what to do and then they have to do it. But when the teaching point comes in, is after the fact, then sit down and explain the situation with her about what happened. That’s where the teaching point comes in, not before he always comes after it. And again, that’s where John Russell, I a lot of that because he caught me going wrong. No hitters. I’m David pitched on a, spent a lot of time, usually career being a catcher, so I’m very lucky to have him around. Donald Wakamatsu is another really great guy. I learned a lot when I was a major to go catch him is just handling more, um, more catchers and the pitching staffs and obviously some of my greatest coaches weren’t even coaches they were pitchers is just getting to know them. I’m catching Greg Maddux is one of the best things ever in my entire life and career, but just a simple understanding of just watching and paying attention and don’t try to trick anybody, just watch and they’ll tell you instead of trying to come up with some fancy thing that’s not there, just watch what’s there and it’s more simple than what you’re turning in a lot of times and try to overcomplicate the simplicity of it and let it be simple. You just don’t find a hard way to do it.

Geoff:

What was that phone call? Right?

Rob:

Oh, it was, it was a whirlwind that age and in, and this is, the game has changed so much. Um, especially since I’ve been out for a while now, like Scott so much younger is there weren’t a whole lot of really, really young kids in a big leagues during that time. And the early two, thousands and Minnesota, a lot of the guys in San Diego and blind guys, so the young guys were very, very thin and each team for now you look at it now, it’s like if you’re a big dinosaur now like, um, but you know, that’s so for me, you know, the shock of it is like, oh my gosh, I’ve been going to the big leagues and all this stuff. When I was a kid, I see these guys playing on TV. I was like, this, this is nothing that a dream. But my dream came around. He said like, okay, now this stuff I’ve been thinking of actually have to do it. I have to plan on TV every day. I have to be that guy every day. And I, the first couple months when I was up there, I didn’t even mean they went by so fast. My first game I got to go into, I blinked and it was over and I don’t even know what the heck I did. It was, it was so fast. And that’s where, you know, people talk about the speed of the game and learning how slow it down, all that stuff here when you first go out there and he says call up and you’re out there for the first couple days for a couple of weeks and a couple of months. I was just, my goodness, it’s just that adjustment period is, it’s so fast because he was like, oh my gosh, you got to celebrate a little bit, but then you go get back to your routine, your routine subtle as you ran. And that was, that was what I had to learn at the big league level now was let me get to my resume to this. So that way I can calm myself down and start to kind of even out and, and now be a part of it.

Geoff:

Being a catcher, the pitcher and coming up with a game plan for each guy. You know, what was, what were those conversations like?

Rob:

We did a little bit different in terms of information and you get released when I was playing with us different now, but at the beginning of a series and go over every single hitter and we were watching video game plans and parents of tax see tendencies of the hair saw specifically in the last week of what they’ve been doing, but obviously you know you want a historical view but you know what they’ve been doing the last seven to 10 days is huge, so you take you’re. You take an aspect, both both of them and formulate plans of attack and you’re seeing what you’re doing so that way you guys are on the same page as you go through your game because that’s the. That’s the key is build that foundation and build that relationship to you guys. Have an understanding of what we’re trying to attack for each of and those are things to remember and it takes. It takes a lot of. A lot of time, but it takes a lot of courage. Especially for a young guy like I was to sit there and talk to guys like me who ended up winning a cy young and tell them this is what we’re going to do, a measly little kid trying to tell her in St Louis attack and it was kind of nerve wracking at first and then after you do a little long and you start to see the trust that’s starting to be built and then it’s different because that was my hard part right there was trying to. Trying to feel included like man, do I just put my foot down and say something or I just kinda go with the flow in those. That’s a big step for a person in their career when I can finally put their foot down and, and talk and get to that same level. Yeah, the guy swinging a ball. So you just hope to God that he misses. But as you look at his career, didn’t really miss on people saying what they want about the steroids and all that stuff. I’m the is one of the best hitters I’ve ever seen in my entire life and without the steroids and stuff, he’s also important.

Geoff:

Do you know some of the best in the world? And so the beauty of that is you kind of get to learn something from them, you know, what were, what were some of the, some of the thing that you learned from some of these other guys,

Rob:

 that way you can be consistent and you can take, you can execute it because like I said, you know, the paces so much faster because there’s not as many mistakes, so everything is smoother. Um, but again, it’s, it’s the mental approach and the plan of what you’re trying to do and what you’re trying to execute good. And have a lot of people think it’s all mechanical and everybody just wants a break on the cake. What would you start talking to her and hit her talking to a picture about what they’re doing to execute before they even make a pitch. You certainly realize, okay, it’s more than just I need to get to this angle right here. All that’s made it because of what they’re thinking and what they’re trying to accomplish before they even picked her foot up to swing or to throw. And that’s where everybody always talks about, you know, they can tell the difference between a big league hitter and a mildly kid or, or an amphitheater. We watch a lot of tea and watch the process, moisture focus. I mean, it’s precision. And so that’s what I really picked up from those. Part of that is getting you to kind of understand who you are, you know, what things are, you know, but then you’re kind of working on developing a game plan and approach, you know, and, and having the discipline to stick to your plan, know how tough is it because you, you just want to jump up, you just want to go up there, jump on the ball and hit it. So how hard is it to develop that discipline, that answer. And it’s not always so cut and dry, you know. And, and as I say this, it sounds like it’s real cut and dry, but, um, but again, it’s just the maturity and the Italians. The patience and the trust in yourself to let it happen. Um, and for the discipline is, you know, do I, do I take the bait and tried to swing at that ball a little bit further out because I think I can hit it and I go inside of it or when it comes down to most of the time is um, and this is where a lot of lot of hitting instructors and a lot of hitters kind of get. They kind of get back log Hillary’s, they come up with ideas, you know, I’m not going to swing until I get this fast ball. You know, in this, you know, this area right here. And they see that fast ball and they just miss it. And then you start talking to them and you’re like, man, I was looking for a fastball. If they all of a sudden we go in the back of their mind or they mentioned, I was like, well he, he, he could have thrown a curve ball too. And that’s where the light bulb comes on. For somebody who at that major league level and have that success or tell them they immediately, that’s the reason why he missed a fastball is you came up with a plan, but you did not have 100 percent conviction of playing because you just mentioned a curve ball came through your mind and messed you up on that basketball production and that’s what I see so much of it with hitters today and coaches today and teaching adjustability and making sure that you’re going to hit, you know, have they been hit that other pitch. If you can hit that fastball and square it up, you’re not going to be able to be successful at this level. So if you’re trying to be ready for everything, every single pitch, you gonna be ready for nothing. And majorly you. You listened to major league hitters, especially after games. Know, talking about, you know, a, a game winning home, run again, run a bakes it and you sit there and they talk about it. I knew, I knew from his background and what he tried to do to me early in the game. I’ll sit here and I got it and I didn’t miss it. That’s what they’re sitting on it waiting for. They don’t worry about the fast ball or you know, I tried to hit the fast ball and a slider is they’re committed, totally committed to one thing and one thing only. That’s the hardest part when it comes to discipline of a, of a young hitter or a pitcher to try to totally a hitter. Um, but since we’re talking about hitting a specifically right now, is the discipline to stay on one thing and not worry about anything else because if you have a sliver of worry, you’re timing’s going to be altered. And if you’re tying to alter, obviously we all know what happens when you squared everything go right. And I still go wrong. Uh, so when you have a sliver of doubt, that’s all it takes to be just off and you miss. And so that’s where you talk to major league hitters and guys who had a lot of success. They hit like it was three. No, every single count they knew a fastball is counting only thing they worried about. So that’s when I want, I talk about the mental place and a plan and have an idea, is having the discipline to throw everything out the window and have absolute tunnel vision for that, that old, that’s what’s going to make it easier to lay off a pitches and to not bite on so much stuff. But again, that takes, it takes time. It takes experience to do it. That’s why so many guys are really good in the cage because they could do that game and that little sliver kind of jumps in there. You know, it’s a patient center where, Gosh, he might do that was that little friends is what gets them out. Then that’s a separator some guys. And to me that just doesn’t get. It, doesn’t get talked enough. It doesn’t get coached. Uh, but that’s what’s going to make you successful. And that’s what lines up your mechanic. Um, you know, everybody about a prison of mechanics on the basis of the guy that hit that, you know, to teach to one slider from. Well, if he wasn’t sitting on it, I guarantee it. If he wasn’t, if he wasn’t sitting on it, you know, everything, you won’t see that. If he’s two strikes, you won’t see that same type of thing. That’ll be different, you know, he won’t hit it 450 feet it for a base hit as ability to put that there a lot. If he wants to hit it, like I could put on tv on sports center highlights. He’s sitting on that thing. That’s why the swing and the cameras so smooth, there’s no irritation. No delay as because it was the ability to be disciplined on stain with what he wants to do. Not very often.

Geoff:

I kinda like the end this with your, your last year was 2008. What was the transition like from being a professional athlete, you know, playing baseball your whole life and it’s kind of all you know in, in, in kind of your identity, you know, so what would they like going from that to doing where you are today?

Rob:

Lieutenant and law enforcement and military? When I was coming up as a kid along with being a baseball player. Um, I just didn’t. I didn’t realize quick, so that was the hardest part for me was kind of switching over and I’ve, I’ve thought about doing the coaching thing, but I knew I had kind of had a passion for law enforcement that I get to get my in with doing camps and personal lessons and stuff like that. My company, uh, that, you know, I take the same mentality, the same process that I did based on that I tend to work habits and I switched over to another career. Um, and so when I went to the police academy, you know, I graduated the first class and then academics. I graduated, I was the, uh, the best shooter in the class and I was the best overall cadet in the class. He like took the same desire and work ethic in the once that I had plane and switched it over and just put it to a new career so that saturated myself with it. She bought a swat team relationships competitively. Every once in a while I’m just now I had to shoot my life not being lost with it. So I’ve been a pretty good shooter. Will help. I’m in this profession, but uh, but it’s stuff that I love now and working in canines is police on that I’ve gotten out and drug detection and patrol and all that stuff, that stuff and understanding the law and you’re working on these things and being on slots is no, I do stuff outside of my normal work duties that not a lot of people. Um, and that’s what’s always, you know, people come across and they gave me compliments and saying, Gosh, you always do so much more. That’s the best compliment that I can ever get. I don’t know competent people. I’m good and all that. Yeah. I got a natural knack for it. I was like, nothing is natural. This is all working. So that’s why it looks nice. It was because of how much, how much work that I’ve put in my baseball career and my law enforcement career. Everything I try to do. Um, but again, I credit my parents for that is, is my upbringing and you know, how they, how they instilled those things in me as a young kid on his obviously made me successful and in baseball can look at my stats, but um, but everything in life that I do is I just don’t settle for being average. Average sucks anybody can be at, which is I want, if I do something, I want to be really good at it. And the only way to be really good at it is to study it, learn it, and work harder than everybody else. Uh, you’ll be successful at it. That’s where he always, I’ve got a kind of success comes from not working. Everybody else is. The more, the more information that you get and you can learn it and become better at it, understand it, truly understands where he could teach it back to somebody that is status knowing, conference that is knowing something and you’ll be surprised of what your output becomes. Then when you truly know what

Geoff:

rob, you know, I really appreciate your time and appreciate you sharing, uh, your, your thoughts and your story with us.

Rob:

Oh, definitely. I appreciate it. Thank you very much.

Outro:

Thank you for listenting to out conversation on The Baseball Awakneing Podcast. Stay tunes for our recap show tomorrow.