LOUIS • Back in 2007, in the bright afterglow of his role in the Cardinals' shocking 2006 World Series victory, Anthony Reyes sat in the team's spring training clubhouse and told me all about the man who shaped him, and the bucket he needed to sit on ...
ST. LOUIS • Back in 2007, in the bright afterglow of his role in the Cardinals’ shocking 2006 World Series victory, Anthony Reyes sat in the team’s spring training clubhouse and told me all about the man who shaped him, and the bucket he needed to sit on.
Reyes’ father, Rick, flipped over a five-gallon bucket so that he could sit low enough to give his son a target that would satisfy the Cardinals’ wishes. The fireballer who has used a high fastball to win Game 1 of the World Series and that same elevated pitch to succeed as a top prospect in the minors, had to master the lower part of the zone to win a job. His father was also good at solving problems, especially when the heat was on, and Anthony Reyes was eager to tell me why.
Rick Reyes was a firefighter.
“He’s had a gun pointed at his face,” the young Reyes told me, “and raced into fires that he couldn’t be certain he would walk out of.”
That’s what his son is doing today.
According to Cardinals Magazine, the former big-league pitcher is one of the firefighters confronting the wildfires sweeping through the Los Angeles area. The New York Times has described it as an “onslaught of wildfires.” In a tweet Wednesday evening, Cardinals Magazine writer Stan McNeal asked fans to “keep former (Cardinals) starter Anthony Reyes in your thoughts as he is on the front lines battling the California wildfires. Was expecting 70-mph gusts on his shift tonight.”
Reyes, now 36, became a Los Angeles County firefighter this past March, following his father into the ranks. Cardinals Magazine shared a picture of Reyes, with his family, in full uniform. In the photo, Reyes’ son wears a shirt emblazoned with a County of Los Angeles Fire Dept. patch.
In 2006, the Cardinals had spent their pitching staff in the seven-game championship series against the New York Mets, a series you’ll recall that came down to the final pitch. After a race to Detroit for the start of the World Series, manager Tony La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan needed a Game 1 starter who could give the rest of the roster a breather and then come back, ready to go through the starters in order with Game 2. Reyes was the best arm available.
Reyes had an ERA greater than 5.00 and the fewest wins of any Game 1 starter, and yet he can three outs short of being the fourth rookie in World Series history to complete a game.
He outdueled Justin Verlander.
Reyes’ win was the Cardinals’ first in a World Series since 1987, and La Russa’s personal streak of eight consecutive World Series games lost ended. Reyes would make 20 starts the next season for the Cardinals, go 2-14 with a 6.04 ERA, and really never have another crack at being a consistent member of the rotation. In 2008, the Cardinals traded him for a young pitcher. Reyes’ major-league career ended in 2009, with Cleveland.
Former teammate Randy Flores said that Reyes returned to Southern Cal to finish his degree, and then, three years later, came the picture of Anthony Reyes, a firefighter like his father before him.
More than 200,000 people have been instructed to evacuate from areas surrounding Los Angeles, and The New York Times reports that the four largest fires in the area have already torched 116,000 acres, combined, in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Fires are said to have destroyed at least 300 homes, and those gusts mentioned in the tweet are only allowing the fire to spread faster and more viciously as Reyes and his colleagues hold.
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