On May 14, 2006 I wrote this letter to sportsletters@phillynews.com. It is in reference to the catch that former Phillie Aaron Rowand made while crashing into the fence at Citizen’s Bank Park.

Yes indeed, Aaron Rowand did make a great “PLAY” last week against the Mets when he caught the ball and then broke his nose running into the centerfield fence. Notice, I said “PLAY” and not “CATCH.”

Rowand ran full speed and made an “Over The Shoulder Grab” and paid the consequences when he hit the fence. Not to diminish his effort but “Over The Shoulder Catches” are made quite frequently. Just watch Sportscenter and see Jim Edmonds do it at least once or twice a week.

Perhaps we should say that Rowand made a very Courageous Play by sacrificing his body to catch the ball.

After reading all of the newspapers, watching all of the sports shows and hearing about it on Sport’s Talk Radio, the catch is being looked at as being one of the “Greatest Ever” by a Phillies player. To me the words Play and Courage are associated more with football than baseball.

I have been following the Phillies for almost 50 years and the GREATEST CATCH I ever saw by a Phillie was in 1997. It was made by a rightfielder named Tony Barron, a scab player in the spring of 1995 and whom the Phillies would later sign.

In ’97 a shot was hit to Barron’s right and headed for the gap when Tony sprinted as fast as he could and at the last second took off and dove. His body was fully extended with all of his limbs off the ground aka, “Superman” and amazingly caught the ball while still in the comic book character’s pose. So here’s my unoffical vote for Tony Barron, for making the Greatest Catch in Phillies History. Does anyone else recall? I know some people who do and say the same thing.

NOTE: While watching FOX TV’s Best Damn Sport’s Show recently, the topic was the best 50 catches in Major League history. I am proud to say that Tony Barron’s catch was on the list. I believe that it was listed around number 25-30. Aaron Rowan’s made Honorable Mention. No other Phillies were on the list.

5 Responses to “THE CATCH”

  1. NICKY BEACH says:


  2. Joe Ferry says:

    I definitely remember Barron’s catch and agree with you that it was an amazing feat, considering he was diving on that hard turf. He sold out his body. Any idea who it was against or what date it was? I’d love to look up the box score and see the circumstances.

  3. mplant says:

    @ Joe Ferry:

    I know this is way late. Hopefully you’ve found the info you were looking for. For whatever reason, I was thinking about this play today. I decided to Google it to see if any footage existed. I had known for a fact the Phils were playing the Cardinals that night. The reason for that is because I went to the following night’s game, which turned out to be Mark McGwire’s first as a Cardinal. There were a couple Cards fans behind us waiting for the gates to open, and they were saying it was the greatest catch they’d ever seen in person. Coming from fans that got to see Ozzie Smith for the better part of two decades, that is saying a lot.

    Anyway, according to retrosheet.org, the game occurred on July 31, 1997 and it was against the Cardinals. I seemed to remember the play taking place fairly late in the game, but according to the play-by-play account, Barron had two putouts, one in the first inning, and one in the fifth. I’m just about 100 percent certain it wasn’t the first inning, so I ruled that one out. If the fifth inning play was indeed the one, the batter was Gary Gaetti. It was the second out of the inning and there were no baserunners. The next batter, John Mabry, lined to center to end the inning.

    As far as the game goes, the Phillies won, 2-1, in 10 innings. The Phils scored first in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI single by Mickey Morandini. Curt Schilling shut out St. Louis over the first eight innings, but allowed a one-out RBI double to Ron Gant in the ninth. The Phils won it in the tenth on an RBI single by Midre Cummings. Ricky Bottalico pitched a scoreless tenth to get the win, Tony Fossas took the loss.

    According to Barron’s game log, that particular game was his fifth in a Phillies uniform. His first game as a Phillie was on July 22, 1997. Darren Daulton had been traded on July 21, so I’m assuming Barron was called up to take Daulton’s spot on the roster. He was a 31-year-old rookie whose only prior MLB experience consisted of one at-bat with the Expos in 1996. Barron spent the remainder of the ’97 season as the everyday right fielder for the Phils, hitting a very respectable .286 in 57 games. The Phillies acquired Bobby Abreu that offseason, though, and Barron never again played in the majors after 1997.

  4. 85 says:

    I was at the Tony Barron game, I was 13. We were sitting down the left field line, and the last poster was right about the date because I believe they announced the McGwire deal early in the game. Anyway, Barron completely sold out to make the play and ended up smashing his face into the turf at the Vet, and if you’ve ever been on it, you know how painful that must have been. He was down for several minutes and got a huge ovation when he finally got up. My dad and I talk about it from time to time, he never remembers his name, and I’ll never forget it.

  5. Drew Murphy says:

    I have been a Phillies fan since the early 1970s, and thought I watched every game played by them. I never saw this catch and I never heard of this payer. I just watch MLB’s top 75 catches ever. Tony Barren’s catch was number 8. Unbelievable catch.

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