Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

King of the Road Is King for a Night

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

King of the Road Is King for a Night

Article excerpt

Charlie O'Brien has made the rounds, done the drill. From Medford to Modesto to Albany to Modesto to Tacoma to Huntsville to Modesto to Tacoma to Vancouver to Denver.

Eventually, he reached the big leagues for a full year in his eighth professional season. But O'Brien has enjoyed scant success as a backup catcher for Milwaukee, the New York Mets and the Atlanta Braves, compiling a .219 average although, as they say, "calling a good game."

Most of the 34-year-old O'Brien's games behind the plate have been good ones this year because he catches Greg Maddux. But O'Brien showed another side of his abilities Friday night, one which the Cardinals had seen on occasion when O'Brien toiled for the Mets.

O'Brien, appearing in his first postseason game, cracked a three-run homer off Cincinnati's David Wells to snap a scoreless tie in the sixth inning.

"I've been playing a long time," said O'Brien. "It's something you dream about as a kid.

"I grew up playing Johnny Bench in the backyard," said O'Brien. l "I wore the same number and I actually tried to catch like him. I tried to hit like him . . . but that didn't last very long."

Bench, a fellow Oklahoman, worked the game as a commentator.

"I'm glad he was here to see this," O'Brien said.

Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said he put O'Brien with Maddux just to give the veteran some playing time.

"He's the best defensive catcher in the National Lrague," said Cox. "He can darn near catch everybody without knowing what's coming. He's that good."

Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones, who had three hits, including a two-run homer, is thriving on his initial postseason venture. "Not one second of this postseason hasn't been fun," Jones said. "The only thing that's been a little bit of a surprise to me is how relaxed I've been."

Jones is six for 14 in the first three games and fielded his position well. "I think it's a big compliment," he said, "when people come up to you and say that, `For a rookie, you're playing like a 10-year veteran. …

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