OAKLAND—Following the presentation of the Oakland Coliseum’s new Jim “Catfish” Hunter Gate (previously Gate C) on Saturday, June 17, Canyon News had the opportunity to conduct a Q&A session with current Athletics Ryan Madson, Liam Hendriks, Adam Rosales, and Stephen Vogt before the team would host the New York Yankees.
Canyon News: If you could name any other gate at the stadium after another former Athletic, who would you pick and why?
Madson: Dave Stewart. I got a chance to work with him in 2003 when I was playing for the Olympic team. He was a pitching coach there, and I was very impressed; it was after my first call up in September. I had little opportunity to play in the big leagues, just one month. He obviously had a great career in the major leagues, so I got to work with him for about two or three months preparing for the Olympics that year. He showed me a lot about how to be a big leaguer, attitude wise and preparation, and he knew a lot about pitching. He was able to translate what he knew to me, and it helped me a lot.
Hendriks: I grew up in Australia, so the only games we ever saw were Cardinals, Red Sox, and Yankees games, stuff like that. But I think obviously you’ve got to go back to the heyday of the A’s when they won back-to-back-to-back World Series. When you get a look at the guys like Reggie Jackson, Mark McGwire, and all the former pitchers, I feel like there are a lot of guys where it could be done. I think if they renamed C Gate “Catfish Hunter Gate” then maybe you could do the D Gate as Dave Stewart. I think you could do it as long as you’ve got the first names. If you’ve got an A gate, a B gate, and a C gate, then you could do it for the entire concourse…It keeps the people involved; it may give those who wonder why the gates were named after certain players a chance to get into each player’s stats and all that.
Vogt: Other than Catfish Hunter, obviously it is great that he’s being honored, I think he was phenomenal, such a great man and ambassador for his community and this organization. Tip of the cap to the A’s for naming the gate. I think another one I would say is Dave Stewart, another person who was very involved in this community here in Oakland and a great ambassador for the game of baseball and for the Oakland A’s.
Rosales: I mean Joe Rudi, right? He’s a good one. I know he’s really heroic for the Oakland Athletics.
Vogt, a catcher and first baseman, also participated in an individual Q&A session regarding Hunter and other former players’ influences, that of the team’s history, and what it means to be an Athletic/
CN: Has Catfish influenced you as a player?
Vogt: Absolutely. I’ve been honored to win the Catfish Hunter Award the last three years (2014-2016). Really getting to dive into who he was and what he meant for this community, his teammates, and this organization. What he meant was second to none. He wanted the best for all of his teammates and out of everybody that day, and he gave everything he had every time he took the mound. He is someone you should strive to be like and to play for. It’s been an honor to have my name next to his the last couple years.
CN: What does the fact that the Athletics won the World Series three times consecutively (1972-1974) mean to you?
Vogt: Anytime you get to look up and see those years, it’s like “Man, we need to get back to that.” I was here in 2013 and 2014 when we were in the playoffs, so it was not that long ago that we were a team that was one of the best in baseball. We know we are getting back to that, and we are getting the pieces in place to be able to make a push.
Every time you look around this place and you see the old time banners, the years, and the names that are up on the tarps, you get excited and you want to strive for that.
CN: Aside from Hunter, which of the players whose numbers have been retired influence you?
Vogt: We’re honored that we get Rickey Henderson to come in here once or twice a month. Getting to interact with him and hearing from, arguably, the best player of all time, that’s awesome. Dave Stewart is around a lot as well, and I’ve also had the pleasure to get to know Rollie Fingers. Another guy we have around is Ray Fosse, somebody who speaks very highly of this place…We’re always honored to be putting on Oakland A’s jerseys, and we will continue to be.
CN: What does it mean to be an Athletic to you?
Vogt: It means a lot; this is a great franchise with a lot of history. Every time you walk into the Coliseum, there’s a lot of history that has happened here, and the Oakland fans are special in themselves. We have the most loyal fans. We may not get as many as other teams, and obviously that hurts sometimes, but the fans that are here every day are behind us no matter what. They have our back, and they believe that we are going to win every night; it doesn’t matter how we’ve been doing or what’s been going on. They know we’re going to win.
So, for me, what it means to me to be an Athletic is embracing the community, the city of Oakland, and the East Bay. Also, understanding that every time you get an opportunity to put on an Oakland A’s jersey, you represent not only yourself and your teammates, but everyone who has put the uniform on before, and all of the fans.