Oakland, California. — Veteran Athletics catcher Stephen Vogt will retire after 10 major league seasons and a long, patient road to the big leagues at age 27.
Not to mention the nearly 15-month wait to finally get his first hit.
Vogt endured an 0-for-32 hitless streak to start his career that began in Tampa Bay and ended in San Francisco’s East Bay.
Sharing his future plans with The Associated Press, Vogt said, “It was like waiting a year and a half when I got my first at-bat and my first hit. “I can’t believe it happened. It was 32 at-bats and I was in my 33rd at-bat and got a pitch to hit and luckily I got the first hit.”
It was last seen on June 28, 2013 at St. Louis Cardinals reliever Joe Kelly ended the longest hitting streak by a non-pitcher since Chris Carter’s 0-for-33 start to the Athletics in 2010.
Even after all that, Vogt eventually became a two-time All-Star and said, “I believe in Stephen Vogt!” He got his own signature song. From fans who admired his path and struggles.
The 37-year-old journeyman, who has played for Tampa Bay, Oakland, Milwaukee, San Francisco, Arizona and Atlanta, joins the Athletics for the second time this year.
“Vochter is one of the most inspiring players I’ve ever managed,” said former Athletics manager Bob Melvin, now a captain in San Diego. “He’s immeasurable as a clubhouse — two-time All-Star, beloved in Oakland. One of my all-time favorites. Definitely has a future in managing.”
Vogt showed little emotion as he drove the bases for his first hit, except for high-fiving third-base coach Mike Gallego on the home run. Vogt’s father, Randy, taught him humility and to choose his moments.
In fact, Vogt remembers only three times celebrating a big hit with a triumphant fist pump or arm raised to the sky, and he asks his kids not to flip the bats.
“I remember I was a huge Barry Bonds fan, and I said, ‘Dad, why is Barry Bonds standing at home plate watching?’ This was his famous spinning wheel when I was a kid,” recalls Vogt. “He said, ‘Stephen, when you have 500 home runs in the major leagues, you can do whatever you want. Until then, you put your bat down and you run around the bases.’
Vogt made an exception in October 2013, a few months after his first win. He produced his first game-winning hit in the playoffs with a single off Justin Verlander in a 1–0 victory over the Tigers that tied the five-game American League Division Series back at Detroit at 1.
After striking out twice against Verlander, Vogt fouled off seven pitches in a 10-pitch at-bat that ended the seventh. K. Vogt won the game the next time around.
“For me, it’s about persevering through adversity and persevering by being the guy that everybody always says, ‘Yeah, he could be good, but,'” Vogt said. “… If somebody says, ‘Hey, if he can, I can,’ and that’s it.”
He left the Rays for the Athletics on April 5, 2013, trading for his native California, just hours from where he grew up in Visalia. Oakland later hired the fan favorite for the job in June 2017.
A major shoulder injury sustained while rehabbing with Milwaukee in May 2018 cost Vogt the year and threatened his career, but he endured surgery and a lengthy rehab to land with the Giants in 2019.
Last year, he started the season with the Diamondbacks and won a World Series ring before being traded to the Braves despite being injured for Atlanta’s championship run. Vogt still loved being a part of it.
“I had a coach tell me, ‘Every day when you get on the field, there’s a little boy or girl in their first baseball game, you have to show them the right way to play,’ and I took that to heart,” Vogt said. “Every night, that’s why. I run hard, that’s why I play hard. This is the right way to play baseball.”
And to be a reliable teammate. At the start of spring training in 2017, Vogt approached young catcher Sean Murphy, took him to meet everyone and set up his locker because “he didn’t want me to be a freshman,” Murphy recalled. Vogt even when they no longer play together.
“It’s great to have him back this year,” Murphy said. “When I heard they signed him, I was like, ‘Yeah, great, I can’t wait to play with him again.'”
Vogt hopes to leave his mark by moving into a coaching or management role. He learned from manager Mark Godsey, Melvin, Craig Council and others.
“I’ve never been the best player. I’ve been one of the best players in the league and one of the worst players in the league,” Vogt said. “I’ve been injured, everywhere in between, I’ve been DFA’d twice, I’ve been traded, I’ve been a nontender, you name it. I’ve been the guy who knew he was going to have a job. The guy who has to fight for a job next year, always goes out and earns it. should.”
In a winless season, Vogt stood in front of his Oakland teammates after Tuesday night’s win over the Seattle Mariners and reminded everyone to celebrate at every opportunity.
“He spoke passionately about it,” Godsey said. “Does he have to do that this season, where he’s in his last 15 games? No, he doesn’t. But it shows his character and his love for the game and his love for his teammates. It was loud. And clear.”