So an unknown guy, with lots of minor league stops on his playing resume, just made the Cubs’ Opening Day roster. And he did the old-fashioned way, by wanting it and working hard to make it happen. And his first name just happens to be Joe. It’s a good story so far, and it’s all true.
Joe Mather toiled in the Cardinals’ minor league system for a decade before they gave up on him in late 2010. He played a bit with the Atlanta Braves, and a bit in the Colorado Rockies’ farm system, but at the beginning of this year he found himself on the outside of baseball, looking in. Then he signed with the Cubs, came to spring training, and did what he had to do to start the season on a big league roster. He’ll play for the minimum salary, or close to it, and won’t be eligible for free agency until 2017. But he clearly wants it, and now he’s got it, meaning a spot in the big leagues.
There’s two points I want to make about Joe Mather. One is that he can play anywhere: all outfield positions, first base, third base, and he even pitched a couple of innings for the Cardinals in an epic 20-inning game back in 2010. He took the loss in that game, but I like the way that he’ll play anywhere, as long as it means getting out onto the field. That’s something the Cubs haven’t had in my memory.
Secondly, I can’t remember that there’s ever been a Cubs player who shared a name with a Chicago high school before, especially on the North side of the city. If only Mather High had caps or shirts available for the public to buy.
Whatever number Joe Mather’s going to wear is a mystery, since it’s not posted on the Cubs website. Whatever he wore in spring training will probably be the number he wears this season. A Joe Mather Cubs jersey might be a hard thing to find, in any event. But a blue and white hat (Mather High’s colors) with “Mather” on it would be pretty cool, wouldn’t it?
It feels good to write about baseball once again. Just one more week until the season starts.