I enjoy telling several Conor Gillaspie stories from his days (2006-08) battering baseballs at Wichita State. Here’s one I’ve heard from teammates, although I haven’t — to be truthful — checked with him.
During those days, the Shockers kept a tablet and pen in one of the bathroom stalls in Eck Stadium to record their thoughts. One of Gillaspie’s pages featured a drawing of an outfield over-run with stick-figure defenders and a caption reading something like “How the outfield looks when Conor bats.”
That reflected Gillaspie’s usual mood that the baseball gods unfairly placed people in the way of his hard-hit baseballs. If he went 4 for 5, the out soured his mood.
Even if this story isn’t true, it definitely sounds like something Gillaspie would do. Hidden in that story is the work ethic that made him a great Shocker and a big-leaguer. He treated at-bats as if they were precious and never gave one away.
I wrote many stories in the Eck Stadium pressbox while watching Gillaspie emerge from the locker room 30 minutes after the game to hit in the outdoor batting cages for another 45 minutes or so. Buddies such as Cody Lassley, Ryan Jones and Bret Bascue often joined him. It is a strong message to see your team’s best hitter play nine innings and then still feel compelled to put in extra work.
On Wednesday, Gillaspie hit a baseball over all the stick-figure outfielders from the Mets. Joe Carter knows what that feels like.
San Jose Mercury News: Madison Bumgarner has worked the ranch. He has seen the rodeo. He understands the inherent danger of an open gate. In this most rugged of seasons, Bumgarner did not allow the bullpen gate to swing wide Wednesday night. The New York Mets did. Conor Gillaspie stunned a sellout crowd with a three-run home run in the ninth inning. And Bumgarner added to his postseason dossier with another Rio Bravo performance.
San Jose Mercury News: Conor Gillaspie was left to do some soul-searching last October. Once a heralded prospect, drafted 37th overall by the Giants in 2008, he had been dealt to the Chicago White Sox five years later, traded again to the Los Angeles Angels last season and then designated for assignment.
San Francisco Chronicle: The Giants got Conor Gillaspie for nothing. Absolutely nothing. Then, in the biggest moment of his baseball life, he gave the Giants everything. He gave them a shot at another World Series championship.
San Francisco Chronicle: Many unrelated circumstances led to Conor Gillaspie being in place to win Wednesday night’s wild-card game with a three-run homer in the ninth inning. One was the persistent lobbying of bench and infield coach Ron Wotus to keep Gillaspie when the Giants needed to clear roster space for other players.