Watching Carlos Gonzalez make a full-out diving catch that was deemed worthy of SportsCenter’s top 10 reminded me recently of Gonzalez’ days as a Yakima Bear, and also of a very rare occurrence.
As a 19-year-old right fielder in 2004, Gonzalez was a talented but unrefined hitter. As a right-fielder, however, he was remarkably good, especially with a strong and consistently accurate throwing arm.
One night at Yakima County Stadium he did something that was stunning — he recorded three outfield assists.
He threw out one baserunner at first who had singled to right-center and rounded the bag too far, he threw another out trying to go from first to third on a teammate’s base hit, and he cut down another who’d tagged at third and tried to score on fly to fairly deep right.
Afterward, I asked Yakima manager Bill Plummer how unusual it was to see a throwing arm that strong and accurate at the Northwest League level.
“Seeing an arm like Gonzo has,” Plummer said, “is unusual at any level.”
For the record, Gonzalez — now known as CarGo — worked hard on his hitting that season and finished at .277 with nine homers and 44 RBI. Having risen to stardom with the Colorado Rockies, Gonzalez is a three-time Gold Glove winner, a two-time all-star, has won a National League batting title and also a Silver Slugger Award.
Another rarity occurred years later at Parker Field, where Yakima Valley Community College outfielder Roemon Fields scored from second on a sacrifice fly to deep right-center.
I’d heard and read of Los Angeles Dodgers speedster Willie Davis doing that during his heyday, but had never seen it — live or otherwise.
Fields, a Seattle native who went from YVCC to Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kan., is still running.
A center fielder with Vancouver of the NWL, Fields has a league-leading 32 stolen bases in 44 games for the Canadians, and is hitting .291. He’s been caught stealing only six times.