Lo Duca: How A Catcher’s Balk Caused My Mother To Fight A Heckler

Lo Duca: How A Catcher’s Balk Caused My Mother To Fight A Heckler article feature image

The Highlights

  • Earlier this season, Boston Red Sox catcher Christian Vasquez was called for a catcher’s balk.
  • Paul Lo Duca was once called for the rare catcher’s balk, as well, and it cost his Arizona State team dearly. 
  • In the end, though, it may have been worth it as the call played a big role in his mother flattening out a heckler.

Earlier this month Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez was falsely accused of a Catcher’s Balk. Actually Vazquez committed a rare foul, Rule 5.06.b.3(E), which stipulates that a runner may advance a base when “a fielder deliberately touches a pitched ball with his cap, mask or any part of his uniform detached from its proper place on his person. The ball is in play, and the award is made from the position of the runner at the time the ball was touched.”

After reading so many responses on twitter and all social media outlets from people that they’ve never heard of a catchers balk…well here you go!!

ARIZONA 11, ASU 10, MAY 15, 1993

We were two two outs away from our first Pac-10 Southern Division title in five years before Arizona rallied for four runs in the ninth, a rally that included a rare catcher’s balk call on you guessed it, me. The victory was in front of 5,572 fans at U of A.

After we scored 8 runs in the 4th powered by a three-run tape measure shot by yours truly — you get to exaggerate when you get old — Arizona wouldn’t go away and with one out in the ninth we were up, 10-7, John Tejcek drew a walk against our closer Noah Peery. Robbie Moen singled Tejcek to second base and Peery walked Jason Thompson to load the bases.

George Arias then hit a single to center field, scoring Tejcek. Moen also scored when the ball got away from our center fielder Jacob Cruz. That error made first base open. Legendary coach Jim Brock brought in Doug Newstrom to try and get us out of the jam. We were told to intentionally walk Morales to pitch to Landry. THe first three pitches were no problem. Then, on the final pitch, home plate umpire Ray Desmond called a catcher’s balk. According to Desmond, I stepped out of the catcher’s box before the ball left Newstrom’s hand. Just like everyone on Twitter I had no clue what he was talking about so I went crazy. It was the biggest homer job ever. The guy worked at the local Home Depot! I’ve never seen coach Brock so upset. He got ejected and we lost that game.

The Rivalry

After the game we had to walk to the buses and get ready for a two-hour bus ride to Tempe. On the trot to the bus, there was this one fan who was wearing me out. I was dejected and he was relentless. As I got to the corner of the gate from our third base dugout, the heckler had not stopped. Out of nowhere my mother comes over and drills this college kid Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka. I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. After the dust settled, the kid was absolutely stunned and just walked away. My father was standing right there with some other family members.

Happy Mother’s Day

After that game, my mother always sat in the bullpen and I would give her a customary kiss before each game. She never wanted to sit next to anyone so she didn’t hear anything. She wore headphones to some games actually.

To this day, that is still one of my favorite moments in my life. My mom just couldn’t take hearing someone wear out her son. That’s love.

After the smoke cleared I remember asking her why was she so mad. She said, “who the hell calls a catcher’s balk?”

As my mother and coach Brock are watching down on me as I write this I remember Coach Brock’s quote after the game, “All I can say is I’ve been in coaching 40 years and I’ve never seen it (a catcher’s balk) called.”