Continuing with our staff Q&A's, here's the first of three parts of Program 15 New Balance Future Stars Series lead writer Mike Ashmore's chat with long-time major-league catcher Chad Moeller.
Moeller, the national catching coordinator for Program 15, played for the Minnesota Twins, Arizona Diamondbacks, Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, and Baltimore Orioles over an 11-year career in the big leagues. He brings an exceptional wealth of knowledge to P15, and it was clear in speaking with him how truly intelligent he is in all aspects of the game.
Mike Ashmore, Program 15: You certainly had quite a playing career, but I kind of wanted to start with what's going on now and backtrack my way there. P15/NBFSS CEO Jeremy Booth has spoken to me often about how happy he is to have you on board with everything, and I was wondering how it all came about that you signed on with his program…
Chad Moeller: “He reached out about wanting to get me involved in one way or another. We started down one route, went another, and it was just trying to figure out what the best fit was going to be between us based on what I'd be interested in doing and what I had time to do. Time being the biggest factor because of what I run here in Arizona and having three kids; for us, it was trying to connect where I could fulfill what he was looking for and where we matched up the best.”
P15: I hear you guys knew each other before all of this…
CM: “We grew up in the same area, played against each other at different points with different teams. There was that connection going back to when we were in high school.”
P15: I know you run some camps and some teams yourself, but what was it about working with Jeremy and Program 15 that appealed to you?
CM: “I spend a lot of time here in Arizona, so I like the idea of being able to get out and see kids around the country. For me, it was an opportunity to see more kids to help and work with.”
P15: Making the transition to being an active player…what was it that made you want to stay in the game as you have? A lot of players want to step back or do something complete different, but you seem pretty committed to giving back.
CM: “Well, I didn't want to so much stay in the game, I needed some distance. But when it came to working with kids, it was a little different. I needed to get away from the pro side and I needed that break. I wanted my brain to be able to engage, and I actually pursued a couple things away from baseball a little bit, but realized that I had knowledge and information to give back, and I could still engage my brain. I could create different situations for the kids and things for them to do. It's been something that's been very rewarding.”
P15: I do want to delve pretty deep into your playing career, and I guess for me the thing that stands out the most is the number of big league teams you ultimately played on. Some guys would have maybe liked to have played for one or two and had more stability, perhaps some guys might have liked the experience you had where you had so much interest from teams and got to play in wide variety of places. How did you view your own experiences in that regard?
CM: “You know, that's one of those questions where you can look at it one of two ways, I guess. So, I had the opportunity to meet a lot of people and catch a lot of pitchers and see a lot of cool towns. From the other standpoint, I got fired an awful lot. There's the other side of it, right? I was basically willing to take a punch and get up, and at the end of the day it was about where the opportunity would be. It was something where I enjoyed playing, so I was going to be out there. It was a matter of where. Yeah, staying in one town would have been so much easier. It would have been so much better. I live in Arizona, it would have been great to stay with the Diamondbacks my whole career, or to play with just one team. But that wasn't in the cards for me. Moving all over the place isn't an easy on a family. Arizona became and remains my home, but you go into every season not sure of your job and not sure of where you'll be…hopefully, you'll have a job. It's a hard place to be. But, as an end result, you get to meet a lot of people. I was fortunate to get to catch a lot of amazing pitchers over the years because I was with so many different teams, so those would be some of the benefits of that.”