Little Sarge: Gary Matthews Jr. Is Carving A Niche To Make Dad And Others Proud

By Joe Booker
Updated: July 10, 2006

HOUSTON — When Gary Matthews Jr. made an unbelievable catch to rob Houston Astros first baseman Mike Lamb of a home run, he did not realize that his catch would go down as one of baseball’s all-time greatest catches since former New York Giants center fielder Willie Mays made an unbelievable catch off the bat of Cleveland Indians first baseman Vic Wertz during the 1954 World Series.

Matthews’ catch was more exciting, because it was late in the game and the Rangers had little chance of winning. He is the son of Gary Matthews Sr., who was one of the game’s greatest outfielders in his 16-years in the major leagues.

Matthew Jr. resides in Missouri City during the off season. The Houston Astros wish he resided in Missouri City and Minute Maid Park during the regular season. “He would be a big help in our lineup. “Said Astros bench coach Cecil Cooper.

Sarge Sr. still elated over Jr.’s catch. “He can catch”, said an elated Matthews. “Gary Maddox one of my teammates called and said that was the best catch he had ever seen and the only one ever remember coming close was Willie Mays’ catch in 1954,” said Matthews.

Maddox told me he wanted his number so he could call him and congratulate him. To make that kind of catch late in the ball game when they were behind 5-0 was what made me so proud. He’s continued to play hard.”

Maddox is not the only one elated over Jr.’s catch. “I have never seen a catch like that,” said Astros bench Coach Cecil Cooper. “I was just glad I was there to see it, because I have never seen anything like it said Astros’ outfielder Preston Wilson.

“I have never seen anything like it,” said Astros’ first baseman/outfielder Lance Berkman who admires Matthew Sr. “It was the greatest catch I have ever seen,” said Hall of Famer Joe Morgan.

Sarge Sr. is also excited about his son’s overall play this season. “We talk quite a bit,” said Sarge Jr., who he was in town with the Chicago Cubs, where he is the team’s first base coach.

“I think he’s finally got it together as a hitter and knows he is going to be in there on a daily bases,” said Matthews Sr.He’s taking advantage of the time that he has been in there. He’s put together some good games and he has been consistent for the most part of the season. The thing I am most proud of him is that he is a good person.”

Matthews Jr. has not always played on a regularly bases. “I told him just to be ready and when you go in try and do your best,” said Matthews Sr. “When you are not playing regularly and get the opportunity it is always against the toughest pitchers, because you are coming in late.”

“The good thing is that he has always played good defense and the manager does not hesitate to put you in the game in late situations.”

Rangers hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo gers a lot of credit for Jr.’s turn around. During the off season, Jr.spent a lot of time in the batting cage with Jaramillo to improve his hitting.

“There were times when I wasn’t happy,” said Matthews Jr. “I am confident it could work out with the Rangers. Their patience in me paid off..” said the personable Matthews Jr.

His early season showing has the younger Matthews set to play in his first All-Star Game. “It is good and me and my father talked about that,” said Matthews Jr.

“He (Gary Sr.) was sitting it out, because he has never made the All-Star Team and he told me that we are only the tenth combination of father and son to make the All-Star Team and that in itself is good,” Matthews Sr. said.

I am happy for him. He’s played well against the teams that he needs to play well against.”

Now when baseball people talk about father and sons like Bobby and Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey Sr. and Ken Griffey Jr., they have to include Gary Matthews Sr.and Gary Matthews Jr.