After throwing eight complete innings, sophomore pitcher Ryan Santhon walks off of the mound toward a dugout full of applause and hugs. He embraces his teammates but quickly begins to seek out his catcher, freshman Alex Gonzalez, to give him a hug.
In baseball, each position on the field is assigned a number one through nine. The pitcher position is assigned number one; and of course, that would make the catching position number two.
“[The pitcher/catcher relationship] is probably the most important, because they control every pitch,” said Pierce College baseball head coach and former pitcher John Bushart. “They have to be more focused and on the same page than any other player on the field.”
With any team sport, trust and the ability to communicate with one another are key aspects of winning. But with baseball those characteristics become essential between a pitcher and catcher.
“We have to know what each other is thinking to get guys out,” said Gonzalez.
Pitchers appreciate their guys tat strap on the gear on a daily basis.
“A couple times today, I had my grip already in my hand and he called down [the same] pitch,” said Santhon. “You have to be on the same page the whole game.”
This year’s baseball team is lucky enough to have four catchers, including sophomore Travis Forbes. Forbes, who is a utility player for the Brahmas, has signed to catch at Gonzaga University beginning in the fall.
“[The catcher] is the main position on the field, there is a reason everyone is facing you,” said Forbes. “To have the opportunity to compete for the main leadership job on a team, I’m really excited.”
Forbes, whose primary position is a catcher, has only caught four games with Pierce this season. But he still has his own way of bonding with the pitching staff.
“It’s little things, like a slap on the butt, a pound on their chest or the way you talk to them,” said Forbes. “As a catcher, the relationship all starts with you. You have to be able to have an open dialogue with them. You have to be open and honest with them.”
Being honest with each other is one way to earn trust. But spending lots of time together also helps their bond forge together.
“Catchers and pitchers are together all the time,” said Forbes.
Each battering tandem has a different report with one another.
“I have a different relationship with every [pitcher],” said Gonzalez. “It only develops with time.”
Experience is what helps to develop each relationship over time.
“It doesn’t happen over night,” said Bushart. “We use the 3 or 4 months in the fall to build that bond. That’s what the pre-season is for.”
Since it seems that the “same page” is the key to a pitcher and catcher’s success and ultimately the team’s success, how do they get there?
“Friendships can’t just be purely baseball,” said Forbes. “You can’t just trust someone based on that. You have to get to know them on a deeper level.”
For Forbes and Santhon, they’ve gone out to a pre-game dinner before each one of Santhon’s starts, and if he keeps winning, they don’t change the place.
Luckily the bond for Gonzalez and Santhon developed quickly when Gonzalez came to Pierce. They’ve known each other since they were seven.
“A catcher has to know the pitcher’s strengths and weaknesses,” said Bushart. “They have to know each other extremely well, not just the physical part, but the mental part too. It’s like a husband and a wife.”
The give and take mentality has to be met with patience and understanding, because the team comes first.
“The ultimate goal is win a baseball game out here, and it starts behind the dish and starts on the mound,” said Forbes.
The pitcher and catcher relationship may be one of the most important relationships on the baseball field, but in order for all of the Brahmas to play with “swag” and be the “base gods” they want to become, they will all need to play as one.