Oakland Athletics fan favorite Stephen Vogt is retiring after 10 MLB seasons

OAKLAND, Calif. — Veteran Athletics catcher Stephen Vogt is retiring after 10 major league seasons and a long, patient road to breaking into the big leagues at age 27.

Not to mention waiting almost 15 months to finally get my first hit.

Vogt endured an 0-32 hitless streak to start his career that began in Tampa Bay and ended in San Francisco’s East Bay.

“It was like waiting a year and a half between my first at-bat and my first hit,” said Vogt, who shared his future plans with The Associated Press. “I couldn’t believe it happened. It had been 32 at-bats and I was in my 33rd at-bat and I got a pitch and luckily I got my first strike.”

It finally came on June 28, 2013, when St. Louis Cardinals reliever Joe Kelly’s longest hitless streak to start a career non-pitcher since Chris Carter went 0-for-33 with the Athletics in 2010. .

Even after all that, Vogt eventually became a two-time All-Star and earned his signature chant, “I believe in Stephen Vogt!” from fans who appreciated his path and struggles.

The 37-year-old journeyman played for Tampa Bay, Oakland, Milwaukee, San Francisco, Arizona and Atlanta before joining the Athletics for the second time this year.

“Vogter is one of the most inspirational players I’ve ever managed,” said former Athletics manager Bob Melvin, now San Diego’s captain. “What he means to the clubhouse is immeasurable — a two-time All-Star, beloved in Oakland. One of my all-time favorites. He’s definitely got a future in management.”

Vogt showed little emotion as he launched his first hit of the day, except for a high five by third base coach Mike Gallego as he drove home. Vogt’s father, Randy, had taught him humility and timing.

In fact, only three times does Vogt recall visibly celebrating a big hit with a triumphant fist pump or a raised arm to the sky and asking his kids not to knock the bats over.

“I remember being a big Barry Bonds fan and saying, ‘Dad, why is Barry Bonds standing at home plate watching?’ That was his famous twirl when I was a kid,” Vogt recalled. “He said, ‘Stephen, if you have 500 home runs in the major leagues, you can do whatever you want. Until then, you put the bat down and run around the bases.”

The one time Vogt took exception was a few months after his first hit, in October 2013. He had his first career game-winning hit in a playoff game against Justin Verlander in a 1-0 win over the Tigers, who sent the best. Detroit tied for 1st in five American League Division Series.

After striking out twice against Verlander, Vogt committed a seven-pitch error in a 10-pitch at-bat that ended in the seventh with his third K. Vogt’s next strikeout. He lined a bases-loaded single to left-center that won the game.

“For me, it’s been perseverance through adversity and staying that guy that everybody always said, ‘Yeah, he could be good, but,'” Vogt said. “… When one person says, ‘Hey, if he can make it, then I can do it’, then that’s all that matters.”

He had left the Rays for the Athletics on April 5 during the 2013 season, traded to his native California and just hours away from where he grew up in Visalia. Oakland then appointed the fan favorite in June 2017.

A major shoulder injury suffered during a May 2018 rehab stint in Milwaukee cost Vogt his career this year, but he endured surgery and a lengthy rehab to land with the Giants in 2019.

Last year, he started the season with the Diamondbacks before being traded to the Braves and winning a World Series ring despite being injured in Atlanta’s championship run. Vogt still enjoyed being a part of it.

“I had a coach tell me, ‘Every day you step on the field, there’s a little boy or girl playing their very first game of baseball, and you have to show them how to play the right way,’ and I’ve taken that to heart,” Vogt said. . “And every night I run hard, that’s why I play hard. That’s the right way to play baseball.”

And to be a reliable teammate. At the start of spring training in 2017, Vogt approached young catcher Sean Murphy and took him around to meet everyone and set up his locker because “he didn’t want me to look like a rookie,” recalled Murphy, who appreciated crossing paths . Vogt even when they no longer played together.

“Having him back this year is great,” Murphy said. “When I heard they signed him, I was like, ‘Yeah, great, I can’t wait to play with him again.’

Vogt hopes to make his mark by moving into a coaching or management role. Along the way, he has learned from manager Mark Kotsay, Melvin, Craig Counsell and others.

“I haven’t always been the best player. I’ve been one of the best players in the league, I’ve been one of the worst players in the league,” Vogt said. “I’ve been injured and everywhere in between, I’ve been DFA’d twice, I’ve been traded, I’ve been non-tendered. I’ve been a guy who knew he was going to get a job next year to a guy who had to pay for his job next year fight, and always go out and earn it.”

Coming off a winless season, it was Vogt who stood in front of his Oakland teammates after Tuesday night’s win over the Seattle Mariners and reminded everyone to celebrate whenever possible.

“He felt passionate about it and spoke up,” Kotsay said. “Does he have to do it this season when he’s playing his last 15 games? No, he doesn’t. But it shows his character and his love for the game, his love for his teammates. It came out loud. and clear.”