By Mark Miller
Bullpen catchers like Josh Frazier of the Texas Rangers are unsung people. While a good many fans may not even know about them, pitching coaches like Andy Hawkins appreciate them.
“We’re always together. We talk a lot,” Hawkins said. “We talk about a lot of things. He knows his job and I know mine.
“We split the work. He does all the catching. I’m not a catcher. These guys have fantastic stuff. Once they turn it loose, it’s over my head. I don’t squat down and get up too good any more. I let him do the catching. These guys throw strikes and throw hard. I’m not catching them.”
Frazier’s route to the Rangers was different from most others in uniform. Like many others, he was an all-state high school catcher at Rockwall in 1995, then played the position in college, Northwood University in Cedar Hill for four years. He even earned an honorable-mention selection to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics All-America team in 1999.
While he wasn’t drafted or signed by any major league teams, his days in a uniform were not over thanks to his Northwood coach, Don Kalkstein. The current Rangers’ sports psychology consultant was the team’s director of performance enhancement from 1995-2005 and helped Frazier secure an internship in 1999.
For two years Frazier handled a number of team-related tasks including throwing batting practice. In 2001, the team then hired him as major league video coordinator, a job he worked at for five years.
When then-bullpen coach Nate Lasseter was hurt in a 2005 road game against the Tampa Bay Rays, Frazier stepped in and has held the job, and loved it, ever since, though he has learned about some of the job’s misconceptions.
“A lot of people think we show up about a half-hour before the game and don’t travel with the team,” Frazier said. He’s part of a brotherhood of bullpen catchers who often share the same route to the job and have a mutual affection for what they do.
“I talk to as many as I can,” he said. “Of course I know the American League guys the best. We go out of our way to say hi to each other.”