The Minnesota Twins only recently recalled centerfielder Aaron Hicks from their AAA minor league affiliate to replace a player taking leave for a family emergency. Hicks made some kind of a statement in the first of three games against the Orioles on Monday night. First he hit a home run to put the Twins ahead in the game temporarily. Then he made an improbable over-the-shoulder catch to end the fourth inning. The Orioles tied the game in the sixth and the Twins eventually pulled the game out on Brian Dozier’s two-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the tenth.
In its account of the game, the AP dubbed Hicks’s catch “A-Mays-ing” and described it this way: “With two out and a man on, Chris Parmelee hammered a ball to deep center field. Hicks turned his back on home plate and took off running. Without looking back, he reached out on the warning track and made the catch.”
Watching the game live on television Monday night, I didn’t think the catch was possible, and I don’t think Dick Bremer or Bert Blyleven did either as they called the play on the broadcast. I’m not sure what pitcher Phil Hughes was thinking — he appears in the video breathing a sigh of relief after the catch — but I can guess that it was something along those lines.
As the AP intimated, Hicks’s catch inevitably evoked memories of Willie Mays. I’m not saying it was up there with Mays’s feat. It wasn’t. I’m not even saying it was the best defensive play of the day. I’m only saying it was a thing of beauty providing Twins fans a moment of bliss.