View Full Version : An Interview with Kevin Ohme (Former Baseball Player)

10-08-2009, 08:32 PM

An Interview with Kevin Ohme
By Daniel Poor aka Stl_Cardinals_Fan

Kevin Ohme is a former pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals. Although he had a brief Major League career, Mr. Ohme played a total of 12 professional-level seasons including two in Japan and several years in the Twins farm system. Here is a link to his career statistics:
(http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=ohme--001kev)https://www.sportscardforum.com/images/imported/2009/10/972.jpg (http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=ohme--001kev)

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Sports Card Forum: Did you play any other sports besides baseball while in high school
and college?
Kevin Ohme: No I did not. I wish I would have tried to play football though.

SCF: What led you to decide that a career in baseball was the choice for you?
KO: To be honest, I was really not that good until my senior year in high school. I guess I was a late bloomer. I just had a love for the game and always wanted to be on the field. I had a great senior year and colleges started calling.

SCF: You were drafted by the Yankees in 1990, but did not sign. Was there any particular reason for that decision?
KO: They called me and basically told me they were interested in signing me but wanted me to play one more year at IRCC. It is what they call a draft and follow. They have your rights up until about a week before the next draft. They never did call me back before the next draft. The Cubs did call me after my sophomore year and said they were in the 18th round with their pick coming up and wanted to know what it would take for me to sign. I guess they did not like what they heard because they did not draft me.

SCF: After spending the ’93-’99 seasons in the Twins’ farm system, what prompted your being released into free agency?
KO: I was not released. When a team signs a player out of the draft, they have your rights for six and a half seasons in the minor leagues. I was in AAA for three-plus seasons for the Twins and was never given an opportunity to pitch in the big leagues. When I became a free agent, I figured I should try another club to see if they would give me a chance.

SCF: Did you notice any differences to American baseball during your time playing in Japan with the Nippon Ham Fighters in 2000-2001?
KO: There were some minor differences, but the main difference I did notice was the strength of the lineup 1-9. The American lineup for the most part had a better 1-9 lineup than in Japan.

SCF: Were you surprised with how fast you were signed to a minor-league contract with the Cardinals at the end of the ’02 spring training after no other team had shown interest in signing you?
KO: Actually no. I knew I still was capable of pitching if someone would give me a chance. The problem was everyone at the time was trying to cut rosters, not add to them. I called every team that spring-trained in Florida until the Cardinals finally agreed to see me pitch. I drove over to Jupiter from Tampa and arrived there at about 8:30 a.m. They were shocked to see me so early and told me I would have to wait to be seen. I finally got to throw for them at around 11 a.m. They told me I had 12 days to make the AAA roster. I threw in three games and broke with the team to Memphis.

SCF: You were finally called up to the major leagues when Lance Painter went on the disabled list in early 2003. What was it like getting the phone call with a voice on the other end finally essentially saying “Congratulations, you’ve been promoted to the majors”?
KO: I was definitely excited. The thing was we were doing pitcher fielding practice in Memphis and were watching the game on our Jumbotron when he went down. Right at that moment every pitcher on the team looked at me and said, “Get ready to go.” I did not want to set myself up for disappointment so I did not get too excited until the call came.

SCF: You had just one hit (quite conveniently in your only at-bat) in your brief major-league career. How did it feel to be standing on first after the hit realizing what you had just done? Do you remember who the pitcher was that you hit it off of?
KO: I remember everything. The pitcher was Ben Sheets and I hit the first pitch I saw which was a 93 mph fastball. I did not think I was going to get to hit because I had already pitched two and two-third innings. I figured Tony (LaRussa) would pinch hit for me. I asked for a helmet and bat because I did not have one. Wilson Delgado, the back-up shortstop, told me to use his bat because it was not working for him so maybe I would have better luck with it. It turns out I did. When I got to first I did not know what to think. I had not been on the bases since high school. I saw Tony motioning for the ball and I was so excited about the hit that I thought he was giving me a sign, so I gave it back to him.

SCF: When you unfortunately injured your throwing arm in 2004’s spring
training, was that the deciding moment when you knew you were done with baseball?
KO: No, not really. I had Tommy John surgery soon after the injury. The main problem was that I also tore my flexor tendon, which is the tendon that attaches your forearm muscle to your bone. Dr. Yocum performed the surgery and everything went well. I rehabbed the rest of the year but had to have a scope performed in 2005 to clean up bone spurs. After more rehab my arm would only get back to about 85 percent and so I decided to retire at the end of 2005.

SCF: As a pitcher, what pitches did you have in your arsenal? Which was your best?
KO: I used a four-seam fastball, a two-seam fastball that acted like a sinker, a changeup and a curve ball. Consistently, my best pitch was my sinker, but I went to my changeup a lot as well.

SCF: Were there any batters who you seemed to have the edge on or repeatedly did well against when facing them during your career?
KO: I’m sure there were, but off hand I can not name them. But I do know of one who owned me. In other words, I almost never got him out. Kaz Matsui owned me in Japan. No matter what I threw him he crushed it.

SCF: Aside from your first major-league hit, were there any other moments that stand out as very memorable to you during your 12-year professional career?
KO: There was a stretch in 1998 when I was with the Twins in Salt Lake City. I was struggling at the time and my father-in-law passed away in July. I almost did not return to finish the season, but I did. I prayed to God to let me know if He wanted me to stay in the game. He was going to have to do something special because I was struggling mentally and emotionally. I proceeded to pitch out of the bullpen for 12 straight outings without rendering a run, a stretch of 23 1/3 scoreless innings. I’d say he wanted me to continue playing.

SCF: What was your favorite part about playing pro baseball? What was your least favorite?
KO: My favorite part was being on the field, whether it be for practice or the game. I loved the camaraderie of the team and of course the excitement of pitching in a close game and winning. My least favorite would have to be the time away from my family.

SCF: As a pitcher with both starting and relieving experience, which did you enjoy more and why?
KO: That is tough because I enjoyed both. I like starting because you knew exactly when you were pitching and what to prepare for, but on the other side I liked relieving because you had to be ready every game, which kept you focus and in the game.

SCF: Out of all the stadiums you’ve played in, does one stand out to you above the rest?
KO: I only was in five parks in the majors while in the big leagues and of those five I would have to say St. Louis had just an awesome atmosphere and fan base.

SCF: Did you have any personally notable teammates over your career? (For example, a teammate who always brought a smile to your face or was just a great person to be around)
KO: There are two who come to mind. One was my teammate with the Twins, Keith Linebarger, an RHP who just was a true friend and honestly wanted the best for everyone. The other was Kevin Joseph, an RHP whom I played with with the Cardinals. He too wanted the best for all and was a true friend.

SCF: Do you recall how you felt when seeing yourself on a baseball card for the first time?
KO: Well, I was drafted in ’93 and played in Ft. Wayne A ball that year. However I got hurt at the end of that season and missed most of the ’94 season. I did not see my first baseball card until ’95 when I was in New Britain AA with the Twins. It was definitely gratifying to see.

SCF: Do you collect any sports cards or other sports paraphernalia?
KO: Not really. During my Spring Training in big league camp with the Cardinals I was able to get Lou Brock and Tony La Russa to sign a baseball for me, but I gave it to my older brother. I did get John Havlicek to sign a baseball for me that I still have. He and Tony were good friends. After I retired I went to a Cardinals-Twins Spring Training game with my son and took him into the Cardinals clubhouse to get Albert Pujols’ autograph. He still has it on his wall.

SCF: Do you have any opinions, good or bad, about the direction baseball has been taking in recent years (e.g. player salaries, the increase in manager firings, etc.)?
KO: I believe salaries are a little out of control, but you have to remember for the longest time owners had the upper hand and took advantage of the players. Either way the fans are suffering because of high ticket prices and that is not a good thing. I have no comment on the manager firings. We can only speculate what goes on between owners and managers.

SCF: Since your retirement from baseball, what have you found to keep yourself busy?
KO: I am currently a Minister of Activities at my church, First Baptist Brandon, located in, of course, Brandon, Fla. I also stay busy with my son, 10, coaching his baseball team, and watching my two daughters, 7 and 3, do gymnastics.

SCF: Several members wanted me to mention your career 1.000 batting average. One member, spoodini, asked specifically, “What is like having a career batting average greater than Ted Williams?”
KO: Well I don’t think one at-bat compared to 7,700 at-bats is much of a comparison.

SCF: Spoodini also asks, “What was the experience like pitching in Japan?”
KO: I truly enjoyed it. Had I not gotten seriously sick during my second season over there, I feel I might have stayed longer.

SCF: 24redsfan asks, “Do you sign fan mail? If so, what address?”
KO: Sure. Send it to 806 Stralifter Lane Valrico, FL 33594.

SCF: Chuck-17 asks, “What is your favorite card of yourself?”
KO: It would have to be my testimony card. When I was with the Cardinals in 2003 and made it to the big leagues, an organization called Family Christian Day knew I was open about my relationship with Jesus Christ and asked if they could make a card of me with my testimony on it. I, of course, said yes and they printed some up for me. To this day I still hand them out when I have opportunities to speak in front of groups.

SCF: Chuck-17 also asks, “What is your favorite piece of baseball memorabilia?”
KO: My wife surprised me on Christmas 2004 with a framed case of my 2003 Cardinals jersey and several of my baseball cards and the tickets from the game in Milwaukee where I made my debut.

SCF: And a final thought – Do you have any advice for anyone, teens and children especially, who might be interested in pursuing a career in baseball?
KO: Just to know there will be ups and downs in anything you do in life, but as long as you give everything you have every day, you will always be able to look at yourself in the mirror and know you did all you could. Play every game like it is your last game because you never know when it truly will be.
Once again I would like to extend a big thank you to Mr. Kevin Ohme for taking the time to do this interview.