Former Blue Jays righthander, Pat Hentgen, joined Griff’s the Pitch for the debut episode of our planned weekly baseball interview.
Pat recalls his pride and emotions for his first opening day with the Blue Jays in 1992. He talks about the vaunted atmosphere in St. Louis and compares Blue Jays fans across Canada in a favourable light to that storied Cardinals franchise.
He talks about retirement and the emotions of the first opening day not in uniform. When applying to coach the Jays bullpen, in 2011, Pat interviewed with manager John Farrell, an experience similar to one shared by Griff, who once thought he was interviewing Farrell after he was named manager in the winter of 2010, when in fact it really felt like the former Red Sox pitching coach was the one in control.
Pat talks about his in-uniform mentors as a young Blue Jay in the ‘90s and how that experience shaped his own passion for helping young pitchers.
He describes the week that he spent back with the Jays this spring and how Chris Bassitt has brought a one-for-all attitude to the clubhouse.
Hentgen talks about leaving coaching to be closer to his three daughters as they finished high school and his special relationship with his father that reflects so many fathers and sons (and daughters) and their mutual, lifelong love of the game.
Pat laughs and explains about his told-to-Griff-at-2-in-the-morning dismissal of relief pitchers as failed starters, in Baltimore while on the verge of winning the ’96 Cy and how that feeling had to evolve as a bullpen coach (but not really).
Finally Pat buys into the premise that there’s more than one way to meet at the same destinations (Cy Young Award) after considering Griff’s golf story in a foursome with Hentgen, Rocket and Erik Hanson back in 1997. He learned to be himself and that was good enough to be the best in 1996.