Thanks for joining us, Mr. Melhuse! I appreciate you taking the time to talk baseball with us. Before we get into your professional career, let’s go back to your childhood. What was baseball like for you as a kid growing up in Stockton, California? It was standard stuff, Little League and whatnot.
Nothing like travel ball today. Fairly often, my dad would take me to see the Stockton Ports, which was the Single A affiliate for the Milwaukee Brewers at the time. One evening after school, my dad picked me up to go to the game. We enjoyed getting there early to watch infield-outfield and batting practice.
I liked to go right down to the gate to watch the guys put their pine tar on their bats and get ready to play. That day it turned out that the only bat boy there had to leave, so the guy in charge of the bat boys asked me if I wanted to take his place. I went and asked my dad and he said I could. I did it for both sides and had a blast with it, so they asked me if I wanted to do it permanently, which I did. You were drafted in 1993 and spent seven years in the minors before being called up.
What was it like to finally get that call? I got drafted by the Blue Jays as a third baseman out of UCLA and played my short season in the New York-Penn League as a third baseman. Then in instructional league, I was switched to catcher, so for the next six years I worked to learn that position. I signed as a minor league free agent with the Dodgers in 2000 and I had something in my contract where if another major league team wanted me on a major league offer, the Dodgers had to call me up or let me go.
The Colorado Rockies wanted me in the major leagues, so my agent told me something was going break soon. The Dodgers had Todd Hundley and his backups, so I thought they’d let me go. But they called me up for a three-game series against the Mets. The first game I dressed for was Kevin Brown against Mike Hampton.
The place was sold out and it was an unbelievable experience. To say I was nervous would be quite an understatement. I didn’t get in any of those games, so they came and went. Then Adrian Beltre was coming off the disabled list and they needed a spot, which was mine, so they sent me out. The Rockies still wanted me, so that scenario played out about two weeks later and the Dodgers called me up again.
We were playing the Cardinals and David Veres was pitching. I pinch hit in the ninth and struck out. Then they needed my roster spot again, so they told me that if I wanted to go to the Rockies, I could go. I went because it didn’t look like I could crack the roster in Los Angeles. I only had one at bat with the Dodgers, but to get your call up there with such a storied franchise and play in Dodger Stadium was something I won’t forget.