NORTH ADAMS, Mass.
– It isn’t often that a player on a small-town, summer league team is remembered so vividly nearly seven years down the road.
But Chris Cates, a 2005 North Adams SteepleCat alumnus, is the exception to that rule, just as he was the exception to just about every other rule and logical explanation as to where his success stemmed from and how he was able to thrive despite checking in at only 5-foot-3.
But the former Louisville shortstop and member of the Minnesota Twins organization was never one to live by the odds, and his story is one that still shines brightly in the eyes and ears of those who hear it, even seven years after his final at-bat donning the black and gold.
New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) Director of Media Relations Don Leypoldt
had the opportunity to catch up with Cates recently. Below is an excerpt from that piece.
Chris Cates was not going to the University of Louisville.
Just before a District playoff game, a Cardinals’ recruiter flew down to Cates’ suburban Tampa home to watch the senior prep shortstop take infield. Cates knew that U of L needed an infielder. The coach watched, and told Cates he had seen enough and was leaving.
99.9% of the time this is scout speak for “The kid can’t play.” Cates, who now thought he’d sooner be going to Mars than to Louisville, felt naturally inclined towards this maxim.
“You haven’t seen me play!” Cates exclaimed.
But this time- as in most of Chris Cates’ life- this was the .1%. “I don’t need to,” replied the coach. “I saw all I needed at pre-game.” Cates was promptly invited to fly to Louisville that weekend for a formal recruiting trip.
“Coach Lelo Prado was there at the time,” Cates picked up. “He told me point blank ‘I’ll be honest with you. We have a second baseman who was a Freshman All American and we have a senior shortstop who was all-conference. But if you beat them out, you’re going to play. I don’t play favorites. Whoever is the best is going to play.’ I really took that to heart. Sure enough, the shortstop ended up moving to third as the season progressed. I started the first five games at second and moved to short, where I played the rest of my career.”
To access Leypoldt’s full story, click here.