08/23/2002 8:28 pm ET
Bard: Faith is his biggest motivation
By Nate Janoso / Special to MLB.com
The Indians came close to bringing Josh Bard to the big leagues after Spring Training. But they decided that the 25-year-old Bard needed a bit more seasoning in the minors, and Bard was OK with their decision. But he still has the Majors on his mind, and the Indians still have him in their big picture.
That fact was made clear Friday when the Indians called him up after Einar Diaz went on the disabled list. Before coming to Cleveland, Bard sat down in Buffalo last week and shared some of his thoughts with MLB.com about life as a ballplayer.
MLB.com: Who are some of the athletes you have idolized on the Major League level?
Josh Bard: The first guy that I really looked up to that I remember was Don Mattingly. My brother and I used to always watch him on TV. When he was coming up to bat, it didn't matter what we were doing at the time, we would stop what we were doing and watch him. I really liked how he went about his business. He was left-handed and was the guy I that I liked to watch play the most.
MLB.com: What about a Major League catcher -- someone who played the same position as you?
Bard: It's hard to say because I grew up in Denver, and we didn't have a baseball team yet when I was growing up. As far as having someone you really idolize in the catcher's position, there were guys such as (Joe) Girardi and (Mike) Matheny that I watched and learned a lot from. I like to model my defensive game after guys like Matheny and (Dan) Wilson, who have a similar body type. But I'm always trying to watch other guys, too, in order to see what they are doing. When you are a little kid, though, you don't look as much at defense but more at offensive power and hitters that you like.
MLB.com: What is the best defensive play you ever remember making?
Bard: Instead of one particular play, I think that, to me, catching a no-hitter or a shutout is more special. I did catch a no-hitter back in high school, but catching a shutout is what I take a lot of pride in. Anything good can happen for a millisecond, but once you establish yourself as calling a good game, helping your team win by calling a shutout, there is nothing more gratifying than that.
MLB.com: Has there been a turning point in your minor-league career when you realized how good you really were?
Bard: Spring Training was big for me this year. I got the opportunity to play against big-league guys every day and had some success. So I came into this year with the confidence to go out and earn my way back up to Cleveland. Looking back a couple months ago, I was hitting .240 and was frustrated with the way things were going. I hit a lot of balls hard but right at guys. But deep in the back of my mind, I knew I could play. I just had to keep plugging away, and now the numbers have started to go my way. This game is humbling, but it's been great to play everyday because it teaches you the ups and downs of baseball since you are never going to be on top and hopefully never going to be on the bottom. You just have to find that middle ground so you can be as consistent as possible.
MLB.com: What is your biggest source of motivation out on the playing field?
Bard: My faith is something that is really important to me, that by far is my biggest motivation. Christ in my life is something that is huge to me, so I try and go out there to play my hardest for him and no one else. If I can go out there and give my best to an audience of one, then I know that I am going about playing the right way. That doesn't mean you roll over and be weak; you go out there and play hard, and I try to take that attitude every day. I am pulling as hard as I can, I have no excuses, and I am lucky enough to have the God-given ability to play this game. He has also given me health, so I am going to try and make the best of it every day.
MLB.com: What do you feel is the key to a successful Major League career?
Bard: Opportunity. You look at some of these guys in the big leagues, they come out every day and play hard. They take the opportunity every day, so I think that is what you learn. That is what I think it takes to play in this game for a long time because you are never promised anything. Some guys who have been in the big leagues for five or six years think they have it made, but then they will have a tough year and the opportunity can leave them in a hurry. This is a tough business, so you have to prepare yourself to play every day.
MLB.com: What have you done with the first contract you ever signed to play professional baseball?
Bard: My wife is into doing scrapbooks and such. She keeps pictures and stuff, but I just try to remember the memories and all the great people I was around. To me, playing is the best -- teammates and camaraderie. The money is a nice thing to have, but that (first) contract is not something that I cherish. Getting the opportunity to be around the guys everyday and hopefully having an impact on their lives, that's something that is more important to me than, say, a contract. Hopefully when you get to the big leagues, you'll keep the ball from your first hit and stuff like that, but I have never been accused of being a memorabilia guy, because I am just not organized enough for that.
MLB.com: What batter verses pitcher in baseball history would you like to see matched up against each other?
Bard: That's a good question. I would like to see Babe Ruth hit. I've seen clips but never got to see him actually hit. I'd like to see him face a closer these days, a guy like maybe Troy Percival who has a 90-some-mile-per-hour fastball. I'd like to see what Ruth could do with one of those, because in his day there weren't a lot of guys who threw that hard. So I would like to see how one of the best of all-time matched up against one of the best of our time.
MLB.com: If you could cast one of your teammates in a movie who would it be?
Bard: Oh man, that's a good one. (Teammate) Chris Coste is probably the biggest character out of all these guys. I would probably cast Coste as John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever because he definitely has all the dance moves. He can really get it going on the (dance) floor.
Nate Janoso, a senior at Bowling Green State University, did this interview for MLB.com on a freelance assignment. Janoso, who interned for the Indians this summer, can be reached at email@example.com.> This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.