Arizona Fall League: Hangin’ with Mr. Hedges

From the morning’s SABR meeting, Mrs. Ducksnorts and I walked a few blocks to The Mission (coincidentally the name of a favorite San Diego restaurant). Our server recommended the street tacos, and they did not disappoint. Mrs. D’s pork shoulder tacos were smoky, 55+. My skirt steak tacos were an easy 70.

After a brief rest, I bid farewell to Mrs. D and piled with my fellow conference attendees into a bus to Surprise for the Fall Stars Game. We sat just to the first-base side behind home plate. I spent the evening with my usual companions, Brian and Drew, as well as BaseballHQ writer Jock Thompson in front of me and the parents of Austin Hedges to my left.

The second batter of the game, Brian Goodwin, singled to right and was promptly caught stealing by Hedges on what appeared to be a generous call. The guy sitting next to me termed it a call “only a father could love” or some such, and we introduced ourselves. His name was Charlie, and his son is baseball’s best catching prospect.

Austin Hedges grew up in San Juan Capistrano and played high school baseball alongside Shane Boras, son of famed agent Scott Boras. We chatted about the elder Boras, who represents Austin, before turning to matters of greater importance.

That’s right, food.

Both Jock and Charlie call Orange County home. I mentioned something about the area, so they asked if I lived there as well.

“No, San Diego. But my wife and I sometimes take the train up there to this great brunch place.”

“Which place?”

“It’s right next to the train station: Ramos House.”

They laughed, said they knew it well. Charlie was a good friend of the owner.

We talked about that, as well as about Austin’s time with the Lake Elsinore Storm, where Charlie could easily drive to home games. Charlie noted former All-Star catcher Brad Ausmus’ influence on his son. Ausmus, then in the Padres front office, would be named Jim Leyland’s successor as manager of the Detroit Tigers the next day.

What impressed me most about Charlie Hedges was the obvious pride he had in his son without being obnoxious about it. I haven’t met Austin, but if he’s anything like his dad, he’ll be okay.

Meanwhile, the younger Hedges nailed another runner in the third, this time without the umpire’s help. He didn’t do much at the plate, grounding out to former USD third baseman Kris Bryant in the second and striking out on a 2-2 changeup in the fifth, but that was merely a footnote to his stellar work behind the dish.

I spoke briefly with Padres Vice President, Assistant General Manager A.J. Hinch, himself a former big-league catcher, on my way out of the ballpark. He seemed to enjoy the Austin Hedges show, and why not?

Other things happened in the game. Beyond that, FanGraphs’ Eno Sarris examined the success rate of AFL All Stars. It’s a worthy read that provides food for thought.

Still, with all due respect to Sarris and his illuminating article, I’d prefer actual food at Ramos House. It might be time to catch the train again.

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