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Posted January 23, 2014 by Clayton Richer in American League
 
 

Interview With Tony Rasmus: Rasmus Baseball Is A Family Affair

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Rasmus Family

The Rasmus family name is quickly becoming synonymous with baseball not only in Russell County, but all over North America. The Rasmus baseball journey began in 1986 when Anthony (Tony) Rasmus was drafted in the 10th round (252nd overall) by the California Angels. Rasmus played 114 games scattered across three minor league seasons in the Halo’s organization before calling it a career in 1998.

The elder Rasmus has been the head coach of the Russell County High School baseball team since taking over the helm in 2001. He led the Warriors to a State and National Championship in 2005 and the school recently renamed the ball park “Tony Rasmus Field” in recognition of his hard work and dedication to the baseball program and its players. During his tenure Rasmus has groomed three players that were selected in the first round of the MLB Amateur draft directly from his program. Two of the players were his sons Cory and Colby Rasmus. The third was left handed pitcher Kasey Kiker taken 12th overall by the Texas Rangers in 2006.

Tony Rasmus currently has three sons playing professional baseball. Colby patrols center field north of the border in Toronto, Cory is working out of the bullpen for the Los Angeles Angels and Casey polishes his craft behind the dish in Double A for the St.Louis Cardinals. Cyle Rasmus called it a career after college due to an assortment of injuries, but was also highly regarded on the diamond.

With each passing day the Rasmus legacy grows on baseball diamonds throughout the country assuring its stamp on the MLB record books. There is no doubt the Rasmus family knows baseball. The journey started back in 1986 when Tony was playing for the Tri-Cities Triplets. Unbeknownst to him at the time his three sons (not triplets by the way) would follow in his footsteps and lace up the spikes professionally. Baseball is definitely a Rasmus family affair.

1. The Rasmus family name is becoming one renowned with baseball from your minor league playing days to that of your four sons. What makes the Rasmus family so successful in the sport and what are you most proud of when it comes to your four sons? 

Well I believe every kid who gets drafted has to have a good amount of natural ability or be unique in a way that catches a scout’s eye.  Colby was just a great athlete, Cory was a good athlete that touched 97 mph off of the mound in high school, and Case was as good a defensive catcher as I’d watched play in high school ball.  So all three of those guys had some baseball skill that showed as above average in my opinion.  My 3rd son Cyle was probably the better athlete of the group as he was a 6.3 sixty guy with a 90 mph arm and baseball smarts that were off the charts.  Cyle had a chance to play pro ball after his last year of college but he had already had a his meniscus in one knee completely removed, a fractured vertebrae, and a broken jaw that required plates and wires to fix so he didn’t feel he would be capable of continuing to play at a level that he was comfortable playing at and his pride wouldn’t allow him to play and not be as good as he used to be. As to the question of what am I most proud of them for?  Well first off I am extremely proud of the men that they have become.  They care about each other and look out for each other and would give you the shirt off of their back if you asked them.  As a parent I believe they have become so much more that I could ever have expected of them and my hope was that they would be way better than I was and they have accomplished that in every way.  They are just great men.  I am obviously proud of their accomplishments in the world of baseball but the people they are today trumps any accomplishment in baseball for me.

2. You played in the California Angels minor league system for three seasons. In 1987 you played with the Salem Angels and were teammates with Ruben Amaro. What do you recall about Amaro and do you still keep in contact with the Phillies General Manager?

I do not keep in touch with Ruben but I do follow him and the Phillies as they were my favorite team growing up and I still pull for them today.  I remember Ruben as a good player who was crazy intelligent and worked extremely hard to improve his game.  He was also a great teammate.  He was certainly a future ML player when we played together and I was just a roster filler but he treated us fill guys like we were the same as he was.  That was big for the rest of us.

3. Your four sons have followed your footsteps in baseball with three of them playing professional including Colby and Cory making it to the majors. Is Cyle still playing University baseball and does he have any aspirations to continue in the sport?

All four of my kids were great athletes so they were right there with the best in every sport that they competed in but baseball was the one sport that I had the most knowledge in so I was able to help them more in terms of knowledge of the game of baseball than in other sports. I was one of those parents that expected greatness in everything that they were part of in life and I know that was hard on them.  Whether it was school or sports I expected them to be the best.  That’s tough I know looking back on it.  Cory was the valedictorian of his senior class and has never made a B in his life in anything school related and being the valedictorian was something I expected him to achieve at an early age so that pressure was always there for him as well as the athletic pressures that I’m sure all of them felt.   As for Cyle, He is doing his internship now to complete his degree and he helped me coach my high school team last year and was actually my  3rd base coach.  Cyle also oversees all of Colby’s properties during the time Colby is away and that in itself encompasses the large majority of his time.

4. Thinking back to the boys growing up, what aspect of the game did each of the four excel in and was there any of the four that stood out?

Cory led my high school team in hitting as an 8th grader and threw 94 as a 9th grader in a tournament in Jupiter Florida so he was probably the superior hitter of the group.  Colby was basically a pitcher until his junior year of high school until he hurt his elbow and then he decided he wanted to be a position player.  Cyle was just the scrappy player who was just a crazy smart player who could run like the wind.  I believe in four years of college he was never thrown out while stealing.  Case was the late bloomer of the bunch who was basically an infielder for most of his baseball career.  We decided to put him behind the plate when I had the two first round pitchers on my team and nobody to catch them.  His first experience at catcher was catching two guys who threw 97 mph.   He was terrible to begin with but worked really hard to be great and he is as good a catch and throw guy and receiver as you’ll see today.

5. Your son, Colby, has enjoyed success since being acquired by the Blue Jays. What has been different for Colby north of the border? What differences do you see between the Jays and Cardinals organizations?

I believe Colby has finally tried to stick to his strengths as a hitter and has learned his swing so he doesn’t need to rely on other people to try and correct him when he goes through a slump. I believe he tried to lean on anyone who had a thought when he was struggling and no one person told him the same things.  This lead to constant changes in his swing and a loss of confidence.

Well the biggest difference I see in the two organizations is one is run by a corporation and one is run by a family.  Obviously the Dewitt family cares about winning and the Cardinals have to be included in any discussion of the top run organizations in the game.  I obviously have zero knowledge of the ins and outs of either organization but on the surface one could assume that a corporation may not have the same desire to see a championship as a family owned organization. Both organizations have been super in terms of how Colby has been treated in my opinion and both have been super nice to our family.

 

6. Colby had a much publicized rocky relationship with then Cardinals Manager Tony Larussa. Why do you think Larussa gave Colby such a hard time and does it worry you with Casey still in the Cardinals organization?

The Cardinals organization was always super to Colby.  As for Tony and Colby’s relationship, it certainly took on a life of its own and I’m not sure why they didn’t get along to be honest.  I believe any player in the game can take any amount of criticism from their manager or coach if they believe that that manager or coach has the player’s best interest at heart.  For whatever reason Colby and Tony LaRussa didn’t have a relationship where Colby trusted him.  Why? I just don’t know.  The situation was toxic to be sure for Colby and I feel like all the parties involved knew that Colby needed to be elsewhere. Case loves the cardinals and like I stated earlier, the Cardinals were always super good to Colby so I never felt like there was a need to be worried.  Your play on the field dictates whether you advance or get released in any organization so Case making it or failing depends on his play, not Colby.

7. Do you see Colby taking a hometown discount next season in free agency to stay in Toronto where he is comfortable and what do you think the chances are the time next season Colby is a Blue Jay?

I really have no interaction with Colby or his agent with regards to his contract situation so your guess would be good as mine.  Purely speculating, my guess would be any agent would want their client to test free agency the closer they get to it.  I know Colby has enjoyed his time in Toronto but he and I have never had a conversation about what his plans are and never will.  Those decisions are above my pay grade.

8. With your knowledge of baseball and coaching, what players on the current Blue Jays team impress you and why?

The Blue Jays are a fun team to watch as a fan.  Offensively I believe they have been pretty good these last few years.  Reyes is a dynamic player as is Edwin and Jose.  Cabrera is a professional hitter, and I enjoy Brett’s enthusiasm and athleticism on display nightly.  I’m a fan of the game so I enjoy what each and every player brings to the table and the Blue Jays have a stable full of offensive stars.

9. What are the differences in managing style between John Gibbons and Tony Larussa?

The biggest difference I see from any manager and Tony LaRussa is that Tony appeared to try and control every aspect of the game and I’m not sure any other manager does that to the extent Tony did it.  I’ve only watched Gibbons for a year but he appears to put more faith in his players than did Tony to take care of their business.  If the cardinals would have had a bad defensive game there would be defensive work the next day so the media could see Tony was taking care of the problem.  Tony was extremely loyal to certain guys but would throw others under the bus in the media where I don’t see Gibbons ever doing that. Every manager has a different style and Tony is a proven winner but I will say it’s tough for some players to play for Tony while Gibbons seems to me to be a player’s manager. Hard to criticize Tony as he certainly is a tireless worker and a winner but those are the differences I see in the two managerial styles.

10. Colby and Cory faced one another for the first time last season when Cory was a member of the Braves. Colby doubled off his sibling in a great Rasmus Family moment. What do you recall from the game and the anticipation between you and your sons leading up to the series? Colby & Cory Rasmus

Myself and my son Cyle were in Toronto when the Braves and Cory came to town.  We were in the section where they serve the buffet, I forget the section number.  I remember the excitement when Cory came in and how that excitement quickly turned into extreme sadness for him after Edwin’s HR.  I did recognize the history in the meeting between two brothers and felt pride in the fact that my two sons were involved in something that has rarely ever happened in Major League Baseball….a brother pitching against a brother.  I can say I was pulling for Cory to strike out Colby and my heart just sank when Colby hit the double.  People in the section were all jumping around happy after the double and a few of them came over to me and Cyle and were happy.  Both Cyle and myself were sitting there looking like were sick to our stomach, both of us just hurting for Cory.  People in the section were congratulating us on the brothers facing off but we couldn’t find any joy in the moment. I was sick until the moment when Colby and Cory met outside the clubhouse and Colby didn’t say a word but gave Cory a hug. After I saw them act that way I felt better about the brother against brother confrontation and since can sit back and enjoy the historical significance of the meeting a little more.

11. If you were starting an MLB team what current pitcher and position player would you want as the core of your team (Can’t have last name Rasmus)?

12. What is something about Colby that baseball and Blue Jays fans don’t know about him?

Lets see…….Colby may be the only person to ever have received a Little League National Championship ring, a Dixie Boys World Series Championship ring, a High School National Championship ring, and a World Series ring.

Rasmus Family


Clayton Richer

 
Clayton Richer
Clayton Richer is the Owner of Baseball Hot Corner. Aside from BHC you can also read his MLB work at Players View. Follow and interact with Clayton on Twitter @MLBHotCorner or @PVClaytonRicher