Allen Lessels On Baseball: K.C. at the bat for Fishers
MANCHESTER --- K.C. Hobson, who debuted in dramatic fashion with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats on Tuesday night, has spent a lifetime learning baseball from a former Boston Red Sox player and manager.
K.C. talks to his dad, Butch, about every other day.
“I absolutely learn a lot from him,” K.C. said. “He played in the big leagues for eight years, managed for three. He’s got a lot of knowledge.”Bobby Meacham — K.C.’s manager with the Fisher Cats — learned from Butch Hobson as well.
The two played side-by-side — Hobson at third base, Meacham at shortstop — with the Columbus Clippers, the Triple-A team of the New York Yankees, in 1983.
Meacham was on his way up to the Yankees and arrived in New York later that season.
Hobson, who played with the Red Sox from 1975-80, was in his early 30s and was closing in the end of his playing days.
It didn’t look it.
“What a hardnosed guy,” Meacham said. “He taught me how to play. I was embarrassed. I thought I played hard. But after seeing him dive after ball after ball. ... He must have been 30 years old and he was diving on that turf and getting all scarred up on balls and I thought I ought to be diving more, too. What a competitor.”
Butch moved on from playing and managed the Red Sox from 1992-94.
K.C., 23, went to Elm Street Junior High School in Nashua and then played quarterback for the Nashua North football team as a freshman while living in the city when Butch managed the Nashua Pride.
“I remember being at the ballpark (Holman Stadium) every day with my dad, hanging out with my buddies,” K.C. said. “It was fun. It’s cool to be back.”
The family moved to California after freshman year and K.C. played football and basketball through his junior year in high school before focusing on baseball as a senior.
The Blue Jays drafted him in the sixth round of the 2009 draft out of Stockdale High School in Bakersfield, Calif.
These days, Butch is managing the Lancaster (Pa.) Barnstormers of the independent Atlantic League.
And offering K.C. tips — on baseball and otherwise.
“We talk about how I’m doing,” K.C. said. “Sometimes we talk about hitting, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we talk about other father-son stuff.”
Butch didn’t originate, but checked off on, an approach that K.C. has taken in the last several weeks, an approach that had him on a tear at Single-A Dunedin before he moved up to Manchester.
K.C. drilled a home run over everything in right field in his third at-bat on Tuesday night, for New Hampshire’s first run after 24 scoreless innings.
It was his sixth home run and 16th RBI in June.
The rip to right by the left-handed hitter didn’ quite fit the plan.
Hobson had been struggling some at the plate in May until he started aiming to the opposite field — encouraged by Toronto roving infield instructor Mike Mordecai.
“I just found something that worked,” Hobson said. “I couldn’t really get any hits. That’s what it boiled down to. Then I found something that’s comfortable for me and it’s working out.”
Mordecai put the plan in motion.
“He bet me I couldn’t hit one over the left field fence,” Hobson said.
“I said all right and started trying it and started doing well with it. Really, I just try to hit every ball over the left field fence, to my opposite field side. Then I changed a little bit with my load and just slowed myself down, slowed my body down.”
So far, so good.
“That’s where my swing is supposed to go and that’s what I feel comfortable using,” Hobson said. “And then I end up pulling the ball sometimes, too, so it’s still good. I’m going to stay with it and not change anything.”
Meacham managed Hobson last year and saw the damage he could do at the plate.
He hit only .215, but was second in the Florida State League with 19 home runs and had 72 RBIs in 108 games.
“He can swing the bat and he never gave up an at-bat at the plate,”
Meacham said. “Batting average is overrated. It’s what you do with those hits. He’s produced a lot of runs this this year so far. I don’t think he’ll have any trouble at this level.”
Hobson, 6-foot, 2-inches, was hitting .238, but had a league-leading 57 runs batted in through 61 games in Dunedin.