Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Interview With Bart Brush, Part II

SoBB: What are some of your memories surrounding Coach Walsh's first days on the job?

BB: Coach never said a word to me about my hair (about shoulder length at the time) all through winter practice in 1996. Until about two days before our Spring Trip. I was throwing a live bullpen in Lavietes and he told me, while standing behind me as I was throwing to hitters, that he hadn’t gotten me a plane ticket yet because of my hair. I had it cut the next day.

I ran into Coach Walsh and Coach Donovan in the hotel elevator on the first night of that 1996 Spring Trip. Uncharacteristically, I was carrying a few six packs. It was the night before our first game so I was a little worried what they might think but all Coach said was, “Looks like you’re havin’ some frappes.”

Coach Walsh’s first win at Harvard: We beat a pretty good URI team down in Florida (we all know how Coach loves to beat New England teams). Ralph threw out a couple guys from center field. Garret Vail started and pitched pretty well. And I got the save despite almost getting into a fistfight with backup catcher Craig Wilke over pitch selection. It was just an early season game but I think Coach instilled from the very beginning that absolutely every game meant something. That understanding was lacking at Harvard before Coach Walsh got there.

Also on that first spring trip in 1996, we were all introduced to a new concept. Not sure if Coach Walsh ever still does this but on a few occasions in road games he would put a big bat (often Bo Menkiti) in the #2 spot in the order at SS and leave regular SS David Forst out of the starting lineup. Obviously confusion reigned when we first saw the lineup card. But Bo would get one AB in the top of the first and then Forst would replace him by heading out to short for the bottom of the first. Please note that this was before Forst became a very solid and eventually excellent hitter. Needless to say this was the source of some ridicule and at the time we came to refer to it as Forst hitting in the 11 hole in the order.

We went down to Yale in 1996 and lost the first three games of the series. I got the ball to start Game 4 and promptly gave up 5 runs in the bottom of the first. The fifth of which scored on a deep home run followed by what I thought was an unnecessarily slow HR trot. I took the liberty to throw the next pitch well behind the next hitter and all the way back to the screen. At this point Coach Stuper took it upon himself to step out of the dugout. He had a few words for me. Before I could have my few words back Coach Walsh was out to meet me. He wasn’t real happy. He said he didn’t want to leave me in but that he needed innings so I should get my head out of my ass and start ‘battling’. We eventually clawed back to go up 6-5, I went 6 and 1/3 and Perrin Mosca and Cooch came in to get the last two big outs. I must have thrown 150 pitches that day. I never had an easy inning (Duffel threw as many pitches in the bullpen that day warming up to take my place as I did on the mound). I’ll never forget Coach basically telling be that I had no choice but to stay out there and start getting some outs.

Check back in tomorrow for the final installment of our interview with Bart.

No comments: