While reading about Tim Wakefield’s well-deserved selection to the All-Star Team in The Boston Globe today, I was happy to see how much credit was being given to his personal catcher George Kottaras.
(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)
“George has done a tremendous job all year long so far,” Wakefield told reporters, “and I look forward to him continuing to do the kind of work he’s done the whole first half. He’s really filled some very big shoes that have been here in the past and I’m very happy and proud of him.”
“That’s a pretty big compliment to George,” said manager Terry Francona. “Takes Wake right out of the chute and it’s the first time Wake ever makes the All-Star team. I think George should be proud of himself.”
The Canadian-born catcher was with the PawSox in 2007 and 2008 and was out of minor league options this year when he won the job of catching Wakefield in spring training.
Having the opportunity to catch Charlie Zink the last couple of years undoubtedly helped Kottaras, but his ability to handle Wakefield’s knuckler has been remarkable – especially considering that George did not play baseball until he was 15 years old.
My favorite George Kottaras story involves a photograph. George was a member of the Greek Olympic baseball team in 2004 and met boxer Evander Holyfield at a party in Athens. After striking up a conversation with the former champ, George asked Holyfield if he would pose for a picture with him. Just before the photographer snapped the photo, George grabbed Holyfield by the head and pretended to bite his ear.
He says Evander got a big kick out of it.
I wish I had that photo to post on the blog.