My Favourite Player: Gav Tramps on Joey Votto

Whether they’re willing to admit it or not, every baseball fan has a favourite baseball player. Maybe it’s their favourite team’s current ace, the random right fielder whose jersey they received as a Christmas gift when they were eight years old, or a promising prospect whose career was cut short by injury.

In this new series, we’ll be asking British baseball fans to tell us how their favourite player came to be their favourite player and a whole lot more. Next up is Gav, and it will surprise nobody that he has chosen the currently unemployed but former Reds’ legend Joey Votto.

Why Joey Votto?

Seriously? If you have to ask that question, then I don’t think you have watched any baseball over the last 17 years. Joey Votto is quite simply the most engaging character in the game. In a sport full of anonymous non-personalities, the future Hall of Famer is unique both on and off the field.

What’s your earliest memory of watching him play?

I’m not saying I’m old, but I remember him being drafted. Well, that’s not strictly true. I remember the draft. It was 2002, and it went down in folklore thanks to the Oakland Athletics picking Nick Swisher with the 16th pick of the first round. Michael Lewis devoted several chapters of Moneyball to the draft.

Anyway, the Cincinnati Reds took Chris Gruler with the third overall pick. They paid him a $2.5 million signing bonus – and this is 2002, remember – but injuries curtailed his career, and he never made it above A-ball.

With their second pick of the first round, the Reds drafted Mark Schramek. He made it to Double-A where he hit .177 in 41 games before his career fizzled out.

Elsewhere in the first round, other teams were drafting future superstars like Zack Greinke, Matt Cain, Cole Hamels, Denard Span, and Prince Fielder.

The Reds whiffed with their first two picks, but the Moneyball A’s had seven first-round opportunities to draft an 18-year-old catcher out of Richview Collegiate Institute, Toronto, called Joey Votto.

Cincinnati took Votto with the third pick of the second round, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Oh, sorry, what was my first memory of watching him play? No idea. It was probably sometime in 2008 when Giovanny Soto pipped him to the Rookie of the Year award.

Tell us about your favourite Joey Votto moment.

Oh man. How can you distil a lifetime of moments into just one? I mean, outside of Albert Pujols and Mike Trout, he has to be the greatest player of my baseball-watching lifetime.

Obviously, I love the multi-homer games and the walk-offs, but his mic’ed-up appearance during the Field of Dreams game was special.

I have always appreciated patience at the plate as a quality in a hitter, so his 0-for-0 with five walks was incredible, especially as it wound up so many Reds fans who just wanted him to swing the bat.

There must be a dozen interviews where he is at his Votto-iest. Sometimes thoughtful and cerebral, other times just plain goofy, like in the mid-game interview with Reds’ reporter Jim Day, when Votto started explaining about his new idea of an exercise venture called “Gym Day with Jim Day.”

However, my favourite moment – because I’m weird – was when he riled opposition fans by refusing to give them the foul ball. It happened frequently, but the one against the Phillies is probably the Votto highlight that stands out.

And why did he do it? Well, partly because he’s Joey Votto and he is unique. But as he said, “I was just having fun with them. They give you a hard time during the game. That’s my way of giving them a hard time back.”

Do you own any Joey Votto merchandise?

I have a green Reds jersey that my wife thought would be funny as I’m colourblind. It was some St Patrick’s Day throwback. And I have a now-too-small Votto t-shirt.

However, my favourite Votto merch is a mug I got in the Bat Flips & Nerds secret Santa.

What’s your favourite highlight?

The home run off Joe Musgrove for his 1,000th RBI was pretty memorable, but if I had to choose a single highlight, it would be when he homered for the seventh straight game.

You have to remember that this was in 2021, and I had already spent the previous three years defending him on Twitter against way too many Reds fans who were saying that he was done and was an overpaid luxury the club couldn’t afford. He hit nine home runs in that franchise record-breaking run. Simply awesome.

Article by @GavTramps. Want to share your “My Favourite Player” story with a Bat Flips & Nerds audience of 10,000+? Click on the “Write for us” link above.

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