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Brad Ausmus

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Bradley David "Brad" Ausmus (born April 14, 1969, in New Haven, Connecticut) is an American 3-time Gold Glove Award winning catcher in Major League Baseball with the Houston Astros.

With more than 100 games caught in 11 consecutive seasons, he ranks 3rd among active catchers in games played. He is 6th all-time of all Jewish major leaguers in hits, and 8th in home runs and RBIs, trailing only Hank Greenberg and Shawn Green in all three categories.[1] He also won the 2007 Darryl Kile Award "for integrity and courage."[2]

Early lifeEdit

High schoolEdit

Ausmus was a standout athlete at Cheshire High School ('87), in basketball, as a guard. [3] He was also a star in baseball -- as a freshman he was a teammate of National Hockey League defenseman (but then, a pitcher) Brian Leetch on the high school's baseball championship team in 1984. As a sophomore he played shortstop and batted .327, as a junior he hit .436, and as a senior he hit .411.[4]

Ausmus set two goals for himself as a youth: to become a major-league ballplayer, and to attend Dartmouth. Both dreams came true.[5]

CollegeEdit

Ausmus chose an unusual route to the major leagues. He initially refused to sign with the Yankees after the 1987 draft, instead choosing to chase another childhood dream, that of attending Dartmouth College.[1] The Yankees allowed him to attend classes at the Ivy League school while playing in the minor leagues during his off terms.[2] (Dartmouth has an unusual academic calendar, giving students more flexibility to do such things.) Given NCAA rules barring paid professional athletes from playing college sports, the MLB-drafted minor leaguer Ausmus could not play for Dartmouth's team, the Big Green, and instead served as a volunteer coach and bullpen catcher. He graduated in 1991 with a B.A. in Government, and was a member of Chi Gamma Epsilon ("Chi Gam") fraternity. In 2005, Ausmus became the first Ivy League catcher to play in the World Series since 1916.[3]

Ausmus was not drafted until the 48th round, but of the 1,150 players drafted ahead of him in 1987 only 6 (Ken Griffey, Jr., Craig Biggio, Mike Timlin, Reggie Sanders, Mike Mussina, and Jeff Cirillo) are still in the game.[6]

Major league careerEdit

Ausmus was drafted in 1987 by the New York Yankees in the 48th round of the draft (see above). He spent five years in their minor league system, then was selected by the Colorado Rockies with the 54th pick of the 1992 expansion draft. Ausmus spent less than a year in the Colorado organization. He was traded to the San Diego Padres with Andy Ashby and Doug Bochtler for Bruce Hurst and Greg Harris in July 1993.

San Diego Padres (1993-96)Edit

He made his Major League debut two days later, when he started for the Padres against the Chicago Cubs, and went 1-for-3 with a single. [7]

In 1995 he batted .293, a career-best, and stole 16 bases (the most by any catcher since Craig Biggio stole 19 in 1991).

Within 3 years, Ausmus was on the move again. In June 1996, after 149 at-bats in which he batted just .181, the Padres traded him, Andujar Cedeno, and Russ Spear (minors) to the Detroit Tigers for John Flaherty and Chris Gomez.

Detroit Tigers (1996)Edit

Despite bouncing back somewhat in Detroit, hitting .248, Ausmus was again traded in December 1996. He was traded with Jose Lima, Trever Miller, C. J. Nitkowski, and Daryle Ward to theHouston Astros for Doug Brocail, Brian Hunter, Todd Jones, Orlando Miller, and cash.

This marked the first of three times Ausmus would be exchanged between the two teams.

Houston Astros (1997-98)Edit

In January 1999 he was traded by the Houston Astros with C.J. Nitkowski to the Detroit Tigers for Paul Bako, Dean Crow, Brian Powell, Carlos Villalobos (minors), and Mark Persails (minors).

Detroit Tigers (1999-2000)Edit

Generally considered light-hitting but sure-handed, Ausmus had his best offensive season in 1999 at the age of 30, when he batted .275 and set career highs in on-base percentage (.365) and slugging percentage (.415), and made the All-Star team. He was hit by pitches 14 times, 6th in the league and a career high. Ausmus batted leadoff for the Tigers 7 times, the first catcher since Bruce Kimm in 1976 to do so.

In December 2000 he was traded by the Detroit Tigers with Doug Brocail and Nelson Cruz to the Houston Astros for Roger Cedeno, Chris Holt, and Mitch Meluskey.

Houston Astros (2001-present)Edit

In November 2003 he signed as a free agent with the Houston Astros, and he did the same in December 2005.

In 2004 he batted .308 against left-handers, and .364 in situations that were "late and close" (in the seventh inning or later, with the score tied or the tying run on base, at the plate, or on deck). [8]

In 2005 he had more walks (51) than strikeouts (48). He batted .304 with 2 out and runners in scoring position.

In 2006, Ausmus hit .230 and set a career high with 9 sacrifice hits.

In 2007, through August 6th Ausmus was batting .232, but was 2nd of all NL catchers with 5 stolen bases.

Ausmus is considered managerial material when his playing career is over. "I have to keep him playing, because if he starts managing, he'll be better than me [sic]," Astros' manager Phil Garner joked.[9] The quick-witted Ausmus responded, "Yeah, but if he keeps playing me more, he may end up losing his job anyway."[10]. Ironically Garner was fired on August 27th.

DefenseEdit

Ausmus has exhibited better range at catcher than the league average each season in his career. He is known for his strong arm, quick release, nimble footwork, framing pitches deftly, and smart handling of pitchers. While the vast majority of his games have been at catcher, Ausmus has also played a handful of games at first base, second base, third base, and shortstop, all of them without making an error.

He nabbed 39% of opposing baserunners in 1995, second in the NL only to the Marlins' Charles Johnson, and led the league with 14 double plays and 63 assists at catcher. On August 2, 1997, he was the first catcher to wear the FOX mini-camera, in a Houston-New York Mets game. In 1997 he had 16 double plays, a career-best, and led the league in caught-stealing percentage, as he threw out 46 of 93 runners. In 1998 he finished second to Charles Johnson in the NL Gold Glove voting.

In 1999 he led the AL with a .998 fielding percentage.

In 2000 he appeared in 150 games, starting 140, which was the most ever by a Detroit catcher. He led the league with 68 assists, and he threw out 30 of 74 baserunners attempting to steal (43.2%), leading the AL in that category.

In 2001, he led the NL with a .997 fielding percentage and only 1 passed ball, had the second best caught-stealing percentage (40%) in the majors, and won the first of two consecutive National League Gold Gloves with the Houston Astros.

He led the league again with a .997 fielding percentage and only 2 passed balls in 2002).

In 2003 had a .997 fielding percentage, for the third season in a row.

He led the league with a .999 fielding percentage in 2005.

Ausmus led the league again with a .998 fielding percentage (the 5th-best of any catcher ever at the time) and only 1 passed ball and won his third Gold Glove in 2006.

On July 22, 2007, Ausmus passed Gary Carter to move into sole possession of second place in major league career putouts by a catcher (11,792). Ausmus in addition passed Ted Simmons that day to take sole possession of 12th place all-time on the games caught list, with 1,772.[11] He also had the 3rd best lifetime fielding average (.991) of any catcher with a minimum of 1,000 games played.

As of August 6th, 2007, he had the 2nd-best range factor (8.06) of all catchers in the NL.

Post-season careerEdit

Ausmus has played in the post-season 5 times, all with the Astros, including the 2005 World Series. In Game 4 of the 2005 National League Division Series against the Atlanta Braves, Ausmus homered with two outs in the bottom of the 9th to tie the game at 6-6 and send it to extra innings; the Astros eventually won in the 18th inning of the longest postseason game in major league history.

National Jewish Sports Hall of FameEdit

Ausmus was inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2004.[12]

MiscellaneousEdit

  • Ausmus comes from a New England family of rabid Boston Red Sox fans. Ironically, he was signed out of high school as a Yankee prospect and rose through the ranks of the New York farm system. Yankee manager Joe Torre was responsible for his selection to the 1999 American League All-Star team; the game was held at Boston's Fenway Park, and featured an emotional tribute to legendary Red Sox hitter Ted Williams.
  • Ausmus and his wife Liz reside in San Diego with their daughters Sophie and Abigail.

External linksEdit

Template:Ivy League MLB All-Stars


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