Datz Finally Has His Words
It took Mariners third base coach Jeff Datz eight minor leagues seasons to get his Major League call-up with the Detroit Tigers late in the 1989 season. After over 450 minor league games, he finally got his chance, as a defensive replacement at catcher on Sept. 5, 1989 vs. the Kansas City Royals.
After all those long bus rides in the minors, he finally stepped to the plate as a big leaguer, and was facing Royals closer Jeff Montgomery with one out and a runner on first base in the bottom of the 8th inning at historic Tiger Stadium. With all of his family in the stands, he was ready to get that first hit, but instead Montgomery hit him on the very first pitch.
“Can you believe that, first time I step to the plate, first pitch I saw, and I get hit,” recalled Datz. “Not exactly how you draw it up, but I got on base.”
Today, prior to the Mariners-Royals game in Kansas City, Datz finally got the chance to speak to Montgomery about the ill-fated pitch. Montgomery serves as an analyst for the Kansas City Royals TV broadcasts, and was on the field prior to today’s game and chatted with Datz.
“I asked him why he was so worried about facing me in that at-bat,” laughed Datz. “Believe it or not, that was the first time I’ve had a chance to talk to him about it. I doubt he even remembered, but it was fun to talk to him.”
Datz had a short Major League career appearing in 7 games for the Tigers in 1989, but has gone on to a long coaching career in the Majors with the Cleveland Indians and Mariners.