It to be around 20 years ago as soon as I noticed a guy in a uniform through a high number lumbering toward the Rangers’ bullpen with catching equipment in his arms. I saw his number detailed in the scorecard. His surname sounded familiar however I couldn’t location it. A few days later, searching through mine baseball card archives, I had a confident ID. He had been a catcher because that the Oklahoma City Red Hawks, the Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate. Currently he was in the large leagues, though he wouldn’t get in a game.

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The rise of the bullpen catcher dates back to the 1980s. The main catalyst was the disappearance of the third-string catcher as result of an increasing number of pitchers top top the 25-man roster. Typically, the third-string catcher was rarely dubbed upon to play, however with the second catcher in the bullpen, 2 pitchers could warm up simultaneously. However if yes sir no third-string catcher, what to do?

Well, you can tap into Walter Mittyism. Imaging transforming to the Bleacher Creatures in Yankee Stadium and asking because that a volunteer to warm up Aroldis Chapman. I’m sure there would certainly be plenty of volunteers; ns equally sure there would certainly be lot of of injuries.


Instead, how around a former catcher re-donning the devices of ignorance and warming increase a pitcher? he is undoubtedly in uniform, deserve to hang out in the dugout and also the bullpen, get involved in pre-game practice, and indulge in authentic major league baseball tomfoolery…I mean, camaraderie. Just one catch: the is not on the 25- or 40-man rosters. If he’s really lucky, he could get come play in an exhibition game, however he will never ever play in a constant season game.

Even given the extravagant budgets that contemporary huge league franchises, the development of the bullpen catcher represents substantial savings. According to the career Trend net site, the pay for a bullpen catcher operation from $30,000 to $60,000. No should waste a precious, high-quality roster point out (the current major league minimum is $555,000 per year) top top a third-string catcher who will appear only rarely in games. Of course, this same approach is obvious in various other fields. Occasionally you can obtain by just fine with a physician’s assistant or a nurse practitioner. A an ext highly-compensated M.D. Is not always necessary.

The pay range for bullpen catchers might not be impressive, yet they have the offseason to supplement your incomes, so that is still possible to live a middle-class lifestyle. For example, pair bullpen catcher Nate Dammann, that majored in second education at Hamline college (where he also played baseball and also football), has operated as a instead of teacher. In an ext recent years, he has assisted minor league coaches during the Florida Instructional League and has coached minor league players at the pair Academy in the Dominican Republic. He first learned about the opened for a bullpen catcher once he attended a camp run by previous Twins outfielder (and present broadcaster) Dan Gladden. Dammann is in his 12th season v the Twins.

Of course, as a bullpen catcher, you get to continue to be at first-class hotels and also get enjoy the meal money ($100.50 a work in 2015). If you’re strapped for cash, it shouldn’t be too difficult to eat ~ above a budget and pocket the difference. Plus, over there is always the opportunity of share in postseason income. In that regard, a effective postseason can greatly enhance a bullpen catcher’s income, together was the instance with World collection shares in ye olden work of modest player salaries. “It’s perhaps life-changing money,” detailed Rob Flippo, previous Dodgers bullpen catcher.

And there are the intangibles. Former Braves bullpen catcher Alan Butts recalls standing on the foul line because that the pre-game introductions and hearing legendary Yankees PA announcer Bob Sheppard speak to his name before the third game that the 1999 human being Series. In ~ the 2000 All-Star game in Atlanta, that pitched to Ken Griffey Jr. Throughout the home Run Derby. Sound like among those old MasterCard map “priceless” commercials.

In the 2 decades due to the fact that I an initial noticed the Rangers’ bullpen catcher, the job has become pretty lot standard in the majors. Just the Angels, White Sox, Nationals and Marlins execute not formally perform a bullpen catcher on the roster among their coaches.


If friend read between the lines of a coach’s job description, however, you can see the he may likewise be a bullpen catcher. Situation in point: the aforementioned Rob Flippo, who is now provided as a “bullpen coordinator” because that the Marlins. He spent 16 years as the bullpen catcher for the Dodgers. I have to believe that as soon as it comes time to heat up a pitcher in the Marlins bullpen, he will be the go-to guy.

While one could think recording experience at part level is a must, there space exceptions. One to be Aron Amundson, former bullpen catcher because that the Twins, who never ever caught however played first base, 3rd base, pitcher and designated hitter during his college career.

At the other excessive there’s Henry Blanco–a former big league catcher–who served as one assistant coach/bullpen catcher because that the Diamondbacks in 2014. He now serves together bullpen coach for the Nationals. This project usually drops to a previous pitcher, so one suspects that Blanco, a 16-year major league veteran (he played for 11 teams), brings a many savvy to the bullpen. Also, he deserve to serve together a translator, which is an ext and an ext important as the game becomes an ext and an ext international. The is over-qualified for the duty of bullpen catcher, but I have to believe if you examine the Nats’ bullpen this year, girlfriend will watch him warming increase pitchers. The same is true that 15-year veteran Jose Molina, officially noted as a “catching coach” with the Angels.

Of course, the surname “bullpen catcher” is a job description in itself, but warming increase pitchers in the bullpen is just the core of the task duties. Having actually a feather training number (i.e., a high number) is one unwritten component of the job description. Swinging the bat, of course, is not, though part bullpen catchers might hit grounders or pop flies throughout infield practice. Staying busy is just one of the unwritten rule of gift a bullpen catcher. Don’t want management world to watch you playing thumbnail hockey through your iphone lest they wonder if lock really need you.

Typically, the bullpen catcher has served together a catcher in college and/or minor organization ball, sometimes not beyond the short minors, various other times indy ball, and also sometimes as high as Triple-A. Invoice Artz, former bullpen catcher because that the Phillies, played in the Pendel amateur league after graduating from LaSalle college in Philadelphia.


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Like Blanco, a few bullpen catchers have significant league experience, though you’ll never ever see the likes that Johnny Bench or Carlton Fisk toiling away in the bullpen. Mark Salas, a veteran of eight significant league seasons (1984-1991), was working for the White Sox as a bullpen catcher as newly as last season. Naturally, he lugged a most street cred come the job. “I’m the bullpen babysitter,” he observed. “You’re a father number out there.”

Aside from a capturing background, bullpen catchers share a variety of other characteristics. Notably, a number room what would be termed organizational players. In various other words, they have actually a long background of minor league ball through one franchise. Possibly they were never serious prospects, yet they showed their worth at the minor organization level. Monitoring takes note and often finds a place in the company for such players.

Consider the case of Jose Yepez that the Braves. Initially signed by Seattle, he spent 15 years (2001-2015) in the minor leagues, including 4 at Gwinnett, the Braves’ Triple-A affiliate. In 2011 that was called up come the Mariners because that a few days but was returned to the minors without appearing in a game. He never ever made it ago to the major leagues until he ended up being a bullpen catcher. In the offseason, the serves together the general manager for the Cardenales de Lara in the Venezuelan Winter League. Obviously, that brings more skills come the table 보다 warming up pitchers.

While having a background as a player is mandatory, a post-college baseball career is not. Consider Dave Racaniello of the Mets, currently in his 18th season as a bullpen catcher. His bio reflects no skilled experience, just high school and also college round (he was a battery-mate of Erik Bedard’s in ~ Norwalk community College as soon as that team won the NJCAA department III Baseball people Series). His development to the Mets’ bullpen was ideal out the a Hollywood movie script.

A 19-year-old college catcher, Racaniello was presented to manager Bobby Valentine, a girlfriend of his father’s, before a video game in 1997. As fate would have it, the Mets’ bullpen catcher couldn’t make it that day, so Valentine enlisted Racaneillo come take end in the bullpen. Racaniello to fill in periodically throughout the remainder of the season, and also when the job opened up up full-time in 2001, he take it it and also never looked back. He has been together a fixture with the team that he even had a jersey with his surname on it in the team shop at CitiField.

This bring up an additional perk of being a bullpen catcher. When it comes to staying in shape, one could certainly do worse. It’s absolutely preferable to functioning as a key-board jockey in a cubicle.

Racaniello also pitches batting practice, another of those duties the sometimes falls to bullpen catchers. After all, batting practice is when pitchers space shagging flies in the outfield, therefore no bullpen catcher is needed. Again, make yourself valuable at every times; the GM might be watching.

Racaniello now shares bullpen recording with Eric Langill (now in his eighth full season v the Mets), whose pro career in the Dodgers mechanism took him as high as Triple-A ras Vegas. The two-catcher bullpen is not typical yet, however some teams have gone that direction.

Racaneillo has come to be something that a legend also though he has never appeared in a game. Because that one thing, he set the document for many cheesesteaks consumed (14) in the Phillies’ visiting clubhouse (a record previously hosted by Dmitri Young). Ironically, the is a fitness buff, having actually climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2012 (with R.A. Dickey and Kevin Slowey) and also participated in a pair of brand-new York City marathons. In 2010, he biked from brand-new York to port St. Lucie, Florida for spring training.

Speaking the legendary feats of consumption, Jeff Motuzas, former bullpen catcher v the Diamondbacks (this year former significant league catcher Humberto Quintero is share duties through Dan Butler), achieved fame (or notoriety) because that his willingness come eat anything for a price. Reliever Sam Demel once said of Motuzas, “Tooz will certainly eat anything except poop, urine and also vomit. No, wait–I’m sorry. He will eat vomit.”

A far better role model is the Giants’ Taira Uematsu, now in his 11th season as a bullpen catcher. He likewise serves together a medical assistant. He played no baseball after ~ high school, yet he functioned as a bullpen catcher/batting exercise pitcher/student trainer while pursuing an undergraduate degree in kinesiology at southern Illinois University. That interned as a bullpen catcher in Triple-A Fresno in 2006 and also returned in 2007, this time because that a paycheck. He was promoted to the Giants in 2008. His an abilities as a translator (he flourished up in Japan yet came to the U.S. After high school) to be a large plus.

Another bullpen catcher with more than catching responsibility is Aaron Muñoz the the Rockies. He played college sphere at Northwestern State of Louisiana and also five seasons (2011-2015) that minor league ball, rising as high as Double-A. His job title now reads together “bullpen catcher/major league operations assistant.” I’m not sure what the title top top the right side that the cut line means, but it need to take a same amount the time far from his bullpen duties, together Kyle Cunningham has been hired together “assistant bullpen catcher.”

Another longtime bullpen denizen is javier Bracamonte the the Astros. Prefer Racaniello, he has been the end there due to the fact that 2001 and additionally throws batting practice. Unlike many of his peers, though, he it s okay to reacquaint himself through lumber through hitting infield practice. He started out as a batboy in the Venezuelan Winter League and also signed as a center infielder with the Yankees Venezuelan Academy, play from 1988 to 1990. Together a member the the Astros, he has participated in three major league All-Star Games.

A modern example of a multi-skilled bullpen catcher is mockery Frasier, now in his 18th season (not count his 2 years as an intern) through the Rangers, though only his 13th as a bullpen catcher. He started out as the team’s major league video coordinator. Lest friend conjure up picture of a video clip nerd, be educated that he to be a catcher at Rockwall High School and also Northwood University, both in suburban Dallas.

Then there room the two Cleveland bullpen catchers, Armando Camacho and Ricky Pacione. In enhancement to the usual chores of bullpen catching and also throwing batting practice, they aid “Indians positional coaches with features relative to your positional responsibilities.” Casey Stengel couldn’t have actually said that better.

As you can suspect, upward mobility is not most likely for bullpen catchers. But perhaps a flashier title helps. Because that example, the Phillies have two bullpen catchers, Bob Stump and Craig Driver; the previous is likewise a “catching coach,” the latter a “receiving coach.”

On the various other hand, even if that doesn’t rise the corporate ladder, a bullpen catcher might have much more job security than a player does. If a pitching employee shines, he will not get any type of credit, however if the staff tanks, he will certainly not get any type of blame. Lack of accountability deserve to be her friend!

Another advantage of being a bullpen catcher is your social standing at a gathering once someone for sure asks, “What carry out you do?” That insider condition could also be a yellow mine. Just imagine you room an aspiring writer maintaining a diary throughout the season.

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It functioned for Jim Bouton; it could work for a bullpen catcher.

References and also Resources

“The average Salary of a Bullpen Coach in the MLB” through Tom Streissguth, careertrend.com“Bullpen catcher: A masking ball,” through La Velle E. Neal, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, respectable 19, 2019