Pat Neshek and his wife lost their son, Gehrig John Neshek, one day after he was born in October.
Six months later the A’s reliever spoke to John Hickey of San Jose Mercury News about the tragic death:
The devastation has never left me. … I don’t think I’ve had time to come to terms with what happened. We had to grieve in public, which we didn’t know how to do. When the season was over it was mid-October. Then the holidays were right there. We couldn’t enjoy anything. Christmas was really hard.
I still feel the devastation, and I don’t know if that will change, but this is the happiest I’ve been, maybe since I’ve been playing baseball. I feel like Oakland could be a place to be for a long time. … [We’ll] be forever grateful to the organization, the way they reached out to us, the way they supported us.
Hickey writes that the Neshek family can’t discuss any specifics about their son’s death because “the autopsy didn’t give enough clarity” and “there are lawsuits pending.”
I’ve been rooting for Neshek since he was a little-known side-arming reliever in the Twins’ farm system a decade ago because he’s a really good guy and when healthy a really good pitcher. It would be awfully nice to see him have a great season.
We welcomed “Mason Saunders” into our lives on Sunday, thanks to The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly and Zach Buchanan. Mason Saunders is the alias of Diamondbacks starter Madison Bumgarner when he competes in rodeos, something he’s done as recently as December (when he was still a free agent).
Given that one of Bumgarner’s other extracurricular activities, riding dirt bikes, resulted in a serious injury, many have been wondering how the Diamondbacks would react to the news that the lefty they inked to a five-year contract two months ago is roping steers in his spare time. It seems like the Diamondbacks just accept that that’s who Bumgarner is.
On Tuesday, Baggarly and Buchanan answered some frequently asked questions about the whole Bumgarner-rodeo thing. They mentioned that former Giants manager Bruce Bochy, in a radio interview on KNBR, slipped in that Bumgarner also hunts bears in his off-time. Bochy said, “You think, ‘Madison, you’re looking at signing your biggest contract ever to set yourself up for life and you’re going to risk it on the rodeo?’ But he’s got confidence. I mean there’s some stories I do know that he probably wouldn’t want me to share, with him bear hunting, and the tight situations he’s gotten himself into.”
As Baggarly and Buchanan explained, when Bumgarner — I mean, Saunders — is roping steers, he’s not taking much of a risk. They wrote, “The header and heeler don’t chase the steer around the ring. Each trial is more or less a one-shot deal and it’s over in less than 10 seconds. If the header or heeler misses on the first attempt, then no time is recorded.” Bumgarner has also said he ropes with his non-pitching hand. Hunting bears is an entirely different level of risk, one would imagine. That being said, no one seemed to be surprised that Bumgarner moonlights as a serious rodeo competitor. That’s likely also the case that he, as Bochy puts it, goes “mano a mano” against bears.