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Something that rarely happens
in minor league baseball anymore is a player who plays all nine positions in one
game. Former Timber Rattlers manager
Scott Steinmann did it back in 1996 when he was a catcher in the Seattle
Mariners system. Craig Kuzmic was
the second and - so far - last Rattlers player to turn this rare feat.
This week's Flashback takes you back to the time Kuzmic played every position
in a game against the Beloit Snappers on the last day of the 1999 season.
There is no byline for this Post-Crescent article that was published on
September 7, 1999.
Timber Rattlers' Kuzmic plays all nine positions in one game
About 20 minutes after the
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers finished their final game of the regular season
Monday, a 3-2 win against
at Fox Cities Stadium, Craig Kuzmic was still outside the dugout signing
autographs and doing media interviews.
"I'm still shaking," he
said. "I've never been so
Most of the other players had
already showered and gotten dressed, but on this day, Kuzmic was the center of
Starting at catcher, he played
all nine positions, each for one inning, in the game.
His final test, pitching in the ninth inning, was the one he thought
about all night and into the morning. It
made him so nervous, he tried to keep himself busy by playing Sega, and then
took a hot shower after 1 a.m.
He spent most of his pre-game
time pacing the clubhouse and getting himself pumped up, and his teammates
helped him out with words of encouragement.
Kuzmic first realized his
accomplishment in the top of the eighth inning with the Rattlers up 3-2.
"I was standing out in right
field getting the chills," he said. "I
thought I could either save the game or lose the game.
I went into the pen, and I don't think I threw a single strike."
Kuzmic can throw a fastball,
curveball and change-up, but his specialty is a knuckleball.
He got the first batter to ground out to first.
The second batter got a hit, and the third flew out.
That set up pinch hitter Ovispo Brito's chance. Kuzmic struck him out
on six straight inside knuckleballs to earn his first professional save.
"I had no idea what I was
doing out there," Kuzmic admitted. "I
was just throwing (batting practice) fastballs.
I was just trying to lob it in there and let them hit the ball.
The last time Kuzmic pitched
was his sophomore year at
when he pitched to one batter during a game in
On Monday, his feat made him so
popular with the fans that about 30 people waited for his autograph near the
home dugout. Kuzmic graciously made
Though Kuzmic left the mound
with the save and didn't allow a run, he said he's not interested in trying
"This was my first
professional time on the mound and probably my last," he said.
Beloit's Kevin Grater, a
native of Fond du Lac who pitched at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh,
pitched seven solid innings Monday, but he took the loss[.]
Grater gave up five hits, three
runs and struck out seven while walking two.
NOTES AND REACTIONS
1.) The manager of the Timber
Rattlers in 1999 as Steve Roadcap. Yes.
2.) Kuzmic went 1-for-4 with a
run scored and a stolen base at the plate in this game.
3.) The winning pitcher that day for the Timber Rattlers was Aaron
Looper. He went six innings and
allowed two runs on five hits. The
win was Looper's ninth. Aaron
Looper is the son of Benny Looper. Looper
the Elder was the the Director of Player Development for
at the time of this game. Just a
little extra pressure on Kuzmic for converting that save.
go from his season with the Timber Rattlers?
Kuzmic was an 8th round pick of the Mariners out of
in the 1998 draft. He worked his
way through the
system and made it to
in 2002 and again in 2003. On June
25, 2003, the San Francisco Giants purchased Kuzmic's contract and sent him to
. He would play 78 games for the
Grizzlies in 2004 and was granted free agency after that season.
In 2005, Kuzmic went to the Washington Nationals organization and played
. The following season, Kuzmic went
, the AA affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays for six games.
He wrapped up 2006 with Chico
of the Golden Baseball League. The
last time he appeared in a game was with
in 2007. Right now, he appears to
be a coach for America's
5.) Was Kuzmic right?
Was his mound appearance against
in 1999 his last? No.
In fact, he made three more appearances as a pitcher - all of them in
2003. On May 6, Kuzmic gave up a hit
and a walk in a scoreless inning for
. On May 22 in the Rainiers game
, Kuzmic allowed three hits in an inning. However,
his streak of scoreless innings came to an end as he allowed a home run.
His final appearance on the mound is straight out of a sports movie cliché.
On August 9 he pitched a scoreless, hitless inning for
with a walk and a strikeout at
6.) There was a companion
article to the piece on Kuzmic about Bo Robinson tying the Midwest League record
for doubles in a season. Since
Robinson was a topic of discussion in this column from Monday, we will put this
one off for a month or so.
7.) Jeff Isom, the manager of
the Timber Rattlers in 2009, thought about having Juan Sanchez play all nine
positions in a game. But, decided
not to have the versatile Sanchez attempt that feat.
Previous Flashback Fridays:
Organist at Goodland Field
The Next Unit
The Beginning of the End