There it was. The sixth inning of the USA vs Venezuela game. The U.S. has just tied the game up at 3-3 with a run being walked in.
There he was. The stocky fresh faced catcher known as Chris Ianetta. I hurried to make sure the main television in the house had this game on. After all, I am staying in a house of Angels fans right now, as I take up the generosity of friends after I moved out of my home in anticipation of my journey later this summer.
“Check it,” I frantically said.
This is the Rockies catcher and I love this kid. Not man crush love but somewhat close. He’s coming up to the plate and the bases are loaded with the game tied. “Man I love this dude,” I said excitedly.
Crack. There it goes and goes. Two feet away from a grand salami and I’m jumping in joy for this one man. He had proved me right. I call him my boy and my boy came through.
Three run double would do just nicely. The U.S. squad was up 6-3 and they would never look back as they brought out the bats 15-6 in the win over Venezuela.
In the house of Angels I was the proudest dude in the room. We could all root for the United States but I could especially root for the player I had watched come up in Triple-A
ball and now was playing on the world stage representing us all.
I thought back to the time when I would tell people this guy was a player to watch and a Rockies catcher they could get excited about in ’06. Ianetta got the call to start the season in 2007 and I was there the second day of the season when he and Troy Tulowitzki had put together some extra innings runs and won late at night with snow coming down in Denver.
I was freezing but I had the camera snapping shots as I jumped for joy with the other 300 people or so that were left in the stands that night. It was freezing but it’s a warm memory. Later in 2007 Ianetta would get sent back down to the Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox to work on his hitting as he struggled most of the time in the show.
With a simple and hard work ethic I would watch him in the Springs getting done what needed to be done. I had been working on some photographs from that second game and I came across one of Chris I wanted to have signed. I had never really been much of one for autographs in my life but I wanted him to sign this photo.
So one summer evening I walked over to the dugout and politely asked if he could sign a photo I took of him earlier in the season. He looked over and quietly said to give him a minute. A lot of players that means buzz off, but for Ianetta he was true to his word. He went and put his catchers gear in the dugout and came over to chat. He wasn’t much for words but he held the same silent and strong demeanor I have always seen of him.
I showed him the photo and explained how I had taken it and it was an exciting game. I told him that I knew he would be back in the show in no time and he politely thanked me and took off to go warm up for the game.
I didn’t get the autograph because I was star struck or thought he was this god but because I watched him day in and day out bust his butt to play ball. He didn’t complain or make a stink about being sent down and he admitted that he would need to work on his at-bats if he was going to compete in the Majors.
He did just that. He would end up coming back up in 2007 and with injuries to Yorvit Torrealba in 2008 he took the starting job back and hasn’t let up. In ’08 he set Rockies club records for a catcher with 65 RBIs and .390 on-base percentage. I enjoy that autograph because it comes from a guy I see as playing the game in the way it is supposed to be played with dedication and hard work. I know I have the only picture with that autograph and a unique memory of it so it’s all the more special.
Seeing him go two for three with four RBIs in the World Baseball Classic was just another chance to brag and say that’s my boy. World meet Ianetta.