"Hmmmm, I wonder what happened to that unremarkable but sturdy backup catcher that played for the Fish through the turn of the millenium?"
Ponder no further, friend.
Mike Redmond spent twelve years with the Florida Marlins organization, including seven- from 1998 to 2004- with the big team. He's the consummate backup, having never touched 300 at-bats in a season in his now 12-year major league career. His work ethic far exceeds his natural ability. He hits exactly one home run a year.
But he's a funny, down-to-earth guy, and during his stay in Miami, he became the clubhouse go-to for local reporters looking for a color quote. After 2004, the Marlins didn't re-sign him, and he was picked up by the Minnesota Twins, a team he's been with ever since, doing the same damn thing he did here- playing rarely, not getting injured, cracking jokes and endearing himself to clubhouse denizens with his friendly-uncle-at-the-backyard-barbecue persona.
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Our sister paper in Minnesota just published a poetic write-up of the now-37 Redmond, who's backing up superstar catcher Joe Mauer. It tells the story of a kid who knew early on he wasn't blessed with supreme talent but labored through the minors and made a career out of a unique specialty: playing through pain.
Two years in A, another two in AA, and Redmond was seemingly impervious. Weathering the maelstrom of foul tips, of being railroaded on tight plays at the plate, Redmond refused to get hurt. He declined pain.
"I love the grind," he says. "I love the fact that I can grind through anything. If I can walk and breathe, I'm out there playing. I never had the luxury to go on the [disabled list]. Some players don't have to worry about that. Nobody's going to outplay Joe Mauer or Justin Morneau. They go on the DL, they come back and fit right into the three hole and never have to worry about it. When you're a bench player, when you're not a superstar, it's not the same."
The stellar read proves that sometimes a story of marginal ability and a struggle to succeed can be a lot more interesting than one of pre-ordained greatness.