A journeyman is defined as "someone who works competently but not brilliantly." Such a description captures the career of new Dodger catcher Chad Kreuter, who was told by manager Davey Johnson that he would work day games after night games, but has seen seen much more action that that.
Kreuter has spent his career in places like Texas, Detroit, Kansas City, Seattle and Chicago, but he has deep ties to California. He once played for the Angels, and Chad prepped under legendary baseball coach Al Endriss at Marin County's Redwood High School, located in suburban San Francisco. In the 1970s and early '80s, Endriss fashioned a prep dynasty. The school won a National Championship and several CIF-North Section Section titles. It was not uncommon for most of the starters to go on to college or pro careers.
"The Redwood program was very disciplined," Kreuter says of his years in Larkspur, "and we were taught the value of humility. When you lose it's not fun, and at Redwood we just didn't lose. Losing is humbling, so the few times we experienced that, it made us disciplined to work harder, and this carried over to the rest of my career."
Kreuter played on the last of Endriss' NCS champions, in his junior year of 1981. He was also an all-everything quarterback on the Giants' football team, and upon graduation in 1982 faced a dilemma. The University of California wanted him to come over to Berkeley and play quarterback. Instead, he chose to play baseball only at Pepperdine. Hey, he could have been at Memorial Stadium for The Play. Regrets?
"My main thinking between football or baseball was that football meant a greater risk of injury," he says. "I was at Memorial Stadium when <former Cal quarterback> Gale Gilbert broke his leg. It occurred to me that as much as I love football, longevity belonged to baseball. It was still tough during college. I would watch USC and UCLA play, and think to myself that if I were there I'd do as good a job as their quarterbacks. Still, in hindsight after 10 years in the big leagues, I have no regrets about not playing football."
Other Redwood players like Brad Cole and Jimmy Jones had preceded him to Malibu, where Kreuter played for well-respected Waves' coach Dave Gorrie.
"SC was in a down time back then," he recalls. "UNLV had a good program. We were in the Southern California Baseball Association with Pepperdine, Loyola, UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara. We had a good program, and that started with walking on the field, playing in a nice facility. We had good batting cages. All this contributes to getting a step up on the competition."
In the summer of 1983, Kreuter played for then College of the Canyons coach Mike Gillespie with the North Pole Nicks of the Alaskan Summer Collegiate League. He was lonely at first, trying to adjust to the strange environment. Then he met Gillespie's pretty daughter, Kelly. Kelly, an LA girl, was also adjusting to the Land of the Midnight Sun. Love flourished, and they are now married.
Father-in-law Mike became USC's head coach in 1987, and in the off-seasons Chad assisted with the program for a couple years.
"Early in Mike's career," says Chad, "he was filling in Rod Dedeaux's shoes. Even though there had not been many quality teams in the period before he got there, he felt he to win. The alumni are huge at SC, and they put pressure on him, so when he produced a National Championship, that opened the door for him to enjoy it a little more.
"I was there today, and his interaction with player's is unique. He's obviously learned to relax," he observed.
After college he climbed his way through the minor leagues, and while Kreuter is not a household name, he is, like the fictional "Forrest Gump" characeter, seemingly always in the middle of the action. He was behind the plate when Nolan Ryan struck out Oakland's Rickey Henderson for his five thousandth career strikeout.<p>
"That is one of the highlights of my career," he says in an understatement. "That and my first day in the big leagues, hitting a homer off Dave Stewart."
Of course, everybody in LA and Chicago knows that Chad has been suspended recently for going into the Wrigley Field stands after a drunken fan stole his hat and glove, but due to legal complications, he has been unable to speak about this event.
Chad is the kind of guy who is a leader, never complains, and demonstrates terrific work ethic. He hits the weights, so as to maintain the strength a catcher needs to handle a long season, swings from both sides of the plate, and is creditable defensively.
"Hey, this is where I should have been the past 10 years," Chad says of Dodger Stadium. After having grown up going to games there, one can see in his eyes that the Dodger mystique is still alive.
Causes Steven Travers Supports
Conservative, Christian, USC, American patriotism