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Flashback Friday 12/4: Craig Kuzmic x 9

December 4, 2009
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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.


All-around player

The 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 Beloit 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 excited."

Most of the other players had already showered and gotten dressed, but on this day, Kuzmic was the center of attention.

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 Cypress Junior College when he pitched to one batter during a game in Alaska .

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 the rounds.

Though Kuzmic left the mound with the save and didn't allow a run, he said he's not interested in trying it again.

"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.



1.) The manager of the Timber Rattlers in 1999 as Steve Roadcap.  Yes.  Steve Roadcap.

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 Seattle at the time of this game.  Just a little extra pressure on Kuzmic for converting that save.

4.)  Where did Kuzmic go from his season with the Timber Rattlers?  Kuzmic was an 8th round pick of the Mariners out of Texas A&M University in the 1998 draft.  He worked his way through the Seattle system and made it to Tacoma in 2002 and again in 2003.  On June 25, 2003, the San Francisco Giants purchased Kuzmic's contract and sent him to Fresno .  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 for Harrisburg and New Orleans .  The following season, Kuzmic went to New Hampshire , 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 Chico in 2007.  Right now, he appears to be a coach for America's Baseball Camps.

5.) Was Kuzmic right?  Was his mound appearance against Beloit 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 Tacoma against Colorado Springs .  On May 22 in the Rainiers game against Sacramento , 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 Fresno with a walk and a strikeout at Tacoma against the Rainiers .

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:

10/16: Organist at Goodland Field

10/23: Coming Home

10/30: The Next Unit

11/6: Rattler Rally

11/13: The Beginning of the End

11/20: Frankie

11/27: Stewart Cooper