Almost by chance, a relationship that began almost a decade ago between a major league catcher and a minor league backstop moved into an entirely new phase this past week. A simple “best wishes” message from Jamie Pogue to new St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny evolved over a several week period into a job offer for Pogue. The 34-year-old is joining the club’s major league staff as the new bullpen catcher.
Pogue was a known quantity, having been a farmhand in the Cardinals system from 2000 until the conclusion of 2003 spring training camp. The Canadian native first joined the organization after being scouted while playing with London of the independent Frontier League. Though he only progressed as far as Double-A New Haven as a player, Pogue had received an official invitation to St. Louis’ major league spring training in 2002 and made camp appearances the year before and after.
When asked about his key influencers as a player, it wasn’t the name of his new boss Matheny that Pogue first mentioned. It was the late Dave Ricketts, a guiding force for countless Cardinals prospects, especially young catchers like Pogue.
|Dave Ricketts memorial plaque at Cards batting cages in Jupiter|
“He taught me a lot, and you could tell – not just for me, but for everybody - he was somebody that just genuinely wanted every player to succeed and maximize their potential… He’s not even close at the top of the list,” Pogue said about Ricketts.
After his release by St. Louis, Pogue returned to independent ball. He continued to compete in the Atlantic League through the 2008 season, playing with a number of former major leaguers. In a preview of his new position with the Cardinals, Pogue then received a call to begin his coaching career as bullpen catcher for Team USA in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
Most recently, the Virginia resident has been coaching an elite team of 14-to-18-year-old Canadian players, the Ontario Blue Jays. In a way, like his new “catch-all” job with the Cardinals, which includes throwing bullpens and other duties as assigned, Pogue was the Jays’ “all-in-one.” He effectively served as manager, hitting coach, pitching coach and doer of whatever else needed to be done.
In an extensive audio interview that follows exclusively for The Cardinal Nation subscribers, listeners can get to know Pogue as he covers a wide variety of topics in his own words. He explains how he rejoined the Cardinals organization and what his new role may encompass. Pogue looks back into how he developed as a player, why he finally decided to retire, his coaching experiences to date and a quick peek ahead to the official start of his new Cardinals employment.
Listen to Audio (19:41)
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Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Look for his weekly minor league column during the season at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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