Debuting a new weekly feature here at Rum Bunter, I caught up with Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Brad Case to discuss our favorite baseball memories.
Inspiration can come at some of the oddest and peculiar times. In fact, I was lying on the couch, watching a movie when an idea for a weekly piece came into my head. As you all know, I love minor league baseball and prospects of the Pittsburgh Pirates. One of those prospects that I felt like I clicked with after several previous interviews pitcher Brad Case.
For those of you who don’t know who Case is, shame on you, you really need to do your research on Pittsburgh Pirates prospects. In 2019 Case jumped from Low-A to High-A and he produced a strong season.
Opponents hit the ball on the ground 40-45% of the time, and he averaged an xFIP between 3.38-3.71. I’m getting off-topic, I know, but I just had to tell you a little bit about the player before I delve into the idea I had.
The idea I had was to talk with the Pittsburgh Pirates prospect weekly on various amounts of topics when it came to baseball. You see, Case and I consider ourselves nerds of the game where we could just talk about baseball all of the time; in fact, in the previous interview I had with him, we talked for another hour about baseball well after my questions had been answered. So I figured why not let the people know what we talk about on a weekly basis.
So for the weekly piece to not seem jumbled up and seem like two men rambling from their chairs about baseball, I decided each week had to have a theme involved. This week’s theme was favorite baseball memories outside of playing the game itself. For me, that was easy seeing is I never played outside of little league for Case I assumed it would be a little difficult to narrow it down to a few.
Let’s start with my favorite memory or memories first. The first memory for me that was amazing took place on July 11th, 1997. ForPittsburgh Pirates historians, you know what I’m about to tell you. I was two years old at the time, and as far as memories go, this was my first game I attended. I’m sitting with my dad, grandmother, and I think my cousin. I’m just a chubby little kid enjoying my popcorn and ice cream without a care in the world, just happy to be doing a “manly” thing with my dad.
It gets to be about the 6th inning, and my dad nudges me and says, “pay attention, son, this game is getting interesting.” I’m a two-year-old with the attention span of a squirrel, but dammit, I sure tried to watch every pitch and every swing to impress my dad. Fast forward to the 9th inning. I can hear my dad say, “we got a no-hitter on our hand’s folks.” If you haven’t figured it out, this game was the combined no hitter with Fransico Cordova and Ricardo Rincon.
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The way my dad was acting, I assumed the Pittsburgh Pirates had won, and we were going to leave to go home. I asked him why we weren’t leaving, and he said, “it’s not over yet, son, we’re going to extra innings.” As a snot-nosed kid, I didn’t know what that meant, but I was happy to spend the time with my dad and family. Rincon comes on in the 10th and continues the no-hitter, and things got really interesting.
The Pittsburgh Pirates come to bat in the bottom of the 10th, and I can’t remember for the life of me who got the first two base hits, but there were two men on, and a pinch hitter by the name of Mark Smith came on for the Buccos. Everyone was on the edge of their seat, and I can remember my dad biting his hat, just praying for a base hit to end the game a create history. BAM Smith hit a moon shot into the stands, and I can just remember the roar of the crowd and the embrace my dad gave me when it happened. (I know chills, right?!)
Let’s take a break from my stories and get to the man of the hour, Brad Case. Growing up in New York, Case was a damn Yankees fan (sorry, still love ya, Brad.) So I asked him what he remembered growing up there and what baseball was like around him.
“I can remember just growing up in New York, and it was the Yankees, and they were just the greatest team of all time ever I put them on such a high pedestal as a kid. Since being older and learning about the history of the game and there’s a lot of moments where I stop and go, HOLY CRAP, this is so cool. I’m a big baseball nerd, and I like to watch a lot of documentaries. I think I watched the Ken Burns documentary a million times.”
He continued, “just hearing the stories from Babe Ruth to Micky Mantle and the Negro Leagues, it’s just a whole journey. To see the whole story get told is just extremely cool to see. I recommend that you watch that if you haven’t already. For me, the player that made me fall in love with baseball and it may seem unfair or something, but it’s Jeter, and it’s always been, Jeter.”
“I never got the chance to meet Jeter, but I did get to meet Mo (Mariano Rivera) and Posada. I actually went to high school with Mo’s son. Mo is a pretty cool guy, and plus, the guy threw one pitch for 20 years and got everybody out.”
We then got on the topic of favorite managers, and of course, as you all know, Lloyd McClendon is my all-time favorite just because of how bombastic and insane he was. But I had to know who Case thought was the best and who was his favorite.
“(Joe) Torre, of course. Torre was the coolest I wanted him to manage the Yankees for the rest of time. If you watch the Ken Burns documentary, he talks about how Torre spent the most time in baseball with managing and playing never to win the World Series, and then he finally gets it in ’96. He was the coolest ever for me.”
Time passed on during our conversation, and we started discussing our most important moments in baseball that we can remember. Previously I had mentioned the combined no-hitter as mine I then told the story of the 2013 Wild Card Game as well because I was 18 at the time, and I had never seen a winning playoff team ever. Case then discussed one of his important moments.
“I remember the ’09 World Series, and that was fun to watch. My dad had bought seats from the old Yankee Stadium, and he put them in our living room. We watched the last couple of outs sitting in those. I think the best moment for me I was present at was two years ago at the AL Wild Card game. The A’s were at the Yankees, and me and my friend were there.”
“My dad’s at home watching the game and he texted me and said, hey you were just on TV. We were sitting in the bleachers, and it was during the national anthem, and our entire section was just going nuts. You could see my buddy and me were getting everybody going, and we were screaming our heads off. Maybe five pitches in after a walk, Judge just blasts one, and we all were just losing our minds.”
While the conversation started to wind down, I had to ask Case to leave me with a good inspirational quote. He told me he was watching a youtube video, and it was called “Don’t try the philosophy of Charles Bukowski.” What that video basically said was if something isn’t coming to you naturally and you have to try and love it, don’t try it anymore. He told me, “I love baseball I don’t try and love it, and that’s why I’m going to continue to play baseball.”
This experimental interview went way better than expected, and if I were you, I’d plan on reading another one just like it in about a week. The topic is still up for debate, but I’d like to talk about maybe an All-Time lineup from players on any team. I’d like to thank Brad Case for doing this with me, and I encourage you to go and listen to his new podcast he launched called “The Minor League Take.”