February 7, 2023
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
It has been called the greatest catch in major league history.
Jason Dickson agrees with that assessment.
And he is one of the best people to judge. After all, the Miramichi, N.B., native was the California Angels pitcher on June 10, 1997 when with two outs and runners on first and second in the bottom of the fifth inning with the score tied 1-1, Kansas City Royals outfielder David Howard belted one of his curveballs deep into centre field at Kauffman Stadium, well over the head of Angels outfielder Jim Edmonds.
“I knew where Jimmy was playing and I’m thinking he’s way too shallow. That ball is hit way too far,” recalled Dickson of his reaction to Howard’s hit. “I’m thinking we just lost the game.”
But Edmonds sprinted back and dove headlong backwards and somehow made a miraculous catch on the warning track.
“I went from thinking, ‘Oh no. I just lost the game’ to ‘I think I’ve just seen the greatest catch ever,'” said Dickson, when asked about Edmonds’ jaw-dropping catch. “It was incredible.”
Steve Physioc, the Angels TV analyst at the time, couldn’t believe it either.
“That may be the best catch I have ever seen,” he said during the broadcast (which you can hear in the video below).
Hundreds of thousands would agree.
In fact, if you search “MLB greatest catch ever” on YouTube, the Edmonds catch is the first single highlight (excluding compilations) to come up.
And it was one of the many highlights from Dickson’s four-season big league career. The Canadian right-hander would hold the Royals to two runs (one earned) in seven innings that game to boost his season record to 8-2 and lower his ERA to 3.27 ERA. His performance that season would earn him a selection to the All-Star Game.
Today, Dickson, 49, is the CEO of Baseball Canada and he spoke with me about the Edmonds catch at the press conference prior to the National Teams Awards banquet on January 14.
Dickson and Edmonds, as they often did before and during his starts, discussed how they would defend against the Royals.
“We were watching a lot of their guys hit off-speed stuff and dumping balls into centre field. And Jimmy said, ‘I’m going to play in,’” said Dickson. “Jimmy would always watch the signs and he’d watch the shortstop relay the signs, so he cheated in hard. He knew that I was going to throw a curveball [to Howard] in that situation with runners on in a close game. And sure enough, I hang it, so when he [Howard] hits it, immediately my head turns because I know where Jimmy is and I’m thinking he is way too shallow.”
Dickson remembers Edmonds running back towards the centre field wall.
“For me, in my vantage point, he is running directly away from me and it seemed like he is running forever and ever,” recalled Dickson. “And usually when you see that, it’s not a good sign, you know it’s going to be off the wall. Then he lays out and I can’t see him catch it because I’m blocked by him. But then I see him roll over and he came up with the ball. And in the moment, I’m thinking, ‘He just saved the game.’ And I’m also thinking, ‘I think I just saw the best catch I’ve ever seen in my life.’”
As remarkable as Edmonds’ catch was, Dickson wasn’t completely surprised.
“Jimmy was one of the best athletes instinctively as an outfielder, just his ability to know where the ball was going to be,” said Dickson. “I don’t think I’ve ever played with anybody quite like that. His understanding and instinct was incredible, so you match that up with his athleticism and you get that type of catch.”
Dickson remembers returning to the dugout after the catch, which was the third out of the inning.
“Jimmy came in and I remember in the dugout, everybody was high-fiving him,” said Dickson. “And him and I were obviously friends and he sat down and I looked at him and he looked at me and we just smiled at each other because . . . we both knew a little bit more about the story about where he was (positioned in the outfield). There was just a look on his face, a smile on his face, it was like ‘I got your back on that one.’”
And Dickson still smiles whenever he sees replays of that catch. The former big league righty also still gets texts and messages from people when that play is reshown.
“I’m glad to be part of it. Somebody has got to do the hard work, so I served it up, so Jimmy could go get it,” joked Dickson.
Thanks for a great read on a great catch.
Thank you very much for reading this and for your support.
One of my two favourite catches of all time! My other one is from Devon White during the WS.
Great Canadian connections. Thank you Kevin
Thanks for your comment and support, Scott.
Thanks for your comment and for reading, Bob.