Neshek finds solace on pitching mound


Neshek finds solace on pitching mound

DETROIT -- Just three days after the passing of his first-born child, Pat Neshek took the mound with a heavy heart, and the initials of his deceased son, "GJN" on his sleeve.

Just 23 hours after Gehrig John Neshek was born on Tuesday, he inexplicably died in his mother's arms. In the wake of the unthinkable situation, Neshek's wife Stephanee urged him to rejoin the team. In the seventh inning he ran from the bullpen to the mound, picked up the ball, and retired the only two batters he faced. It was an unforgettable and touching moment. It didn't matter that it came in a 3-1 loss.PRATT'S INSTANT REPLAY: A's drop Game 1 in Detroit
"I was thinking about him the whole time," Neshek said. Neshek entered the game with one out and a runner on first. He got Omar Infante to hit a grounder to shortstop Stephen Drew, who almost turned a double play. The A's reliever then struck out Austin Jackson to end the inning. As he jogged off the mound he tapped the patch with his son's initials on his sleeve, looked up, and exhaled. "Yesterday I said to get on the baseball field you don't really think about anything else, but tonight I was thinking about it," Neshek said while fighting back tears. "It sounds so clich but I felt like I had someone looking down on me and helping me." Neshek said he was told of the black patch with white letters memorializing his son yesterday. It was worn by the entire team."I broke down the second I heard it," Neshek said. "I thought that was really, really, special." Neshek hasn't been with the A's that long. He joined the team on August 3, when he was acquired for cash considerations. Yet, his teammates are all rallying around him like compassionate brothers."We all knew that his little one was with him out there on the mound," Josh Reddick said. "A lot of emotions going through the mind. You have to credit the guy. If that happened to me I don't know if I'd be sleeping at night so you have to credit him.""I don't know how he's here right now," Moss said. "That's pretty amazing that he's here and that he was able to keep his emotions in check and pitch the way he did. It says a lot about what kind of man he is."Neshek somehow held it together when addressing the media after the game. He had a tougher time doing so as he spent two days at home with his wife Stephanee after his son's tragic passing. After the second day at home he wasn't sure he could handle it for a third day. That's when his wife suggested he rejoin the team to ease his mind. It seems to have worked for now.
REWIND: Neshek's loss reverberates through A's
"Just getting that support and getting out of that inning it made me so happy," Neshek said. "They supported me the whole time.""These guys have been so awesome," Neshek added. "I don't think without a lot of the messages on Twitter and text messages I don't think I could have come back."Gehrig John Neshek was named after the Hall of Fame baseball player Lou Gehrig. He was born on October 2, and passed away on Wednesday October 3. In just 23 short hours he made an impact on the millions of people that have heard his story. That's more than many people can say they have done in a much longer life time. Gone but not forgotten. Forever loved by his parents Pat and Stephanee. GJN.

A's blow it again in ninth, swept on walk-off grand slam in 10th


A's blow it again in ninth, swept on walk-off grand slam in 10th


TORONTO  — Steve Pearce became the latest Blue Jay to hit a game-ending home run.

Pearce hit a tiebreaking grand slam in the 10th inning and Toronto beat the Oakland Athletics 8-4 on Thursday to complete a four-game sweep.

"Hopefully we just keep the ball rolling," Pearce said. "We're getting down to the end of the season so we've got to step it up and this was a great series to get it started."

Oakland reliever Liam Hendriks (3-2) walked the bases loaded with two outs before Pearce hooked a 3-2 pitch down the left field line and into the second deck. The grand slam was the second of his career and first since May 2015.

The Blue Jays won consecutive games on home runs for the first time in team history.

Kendrys Morales, who hit a game-winning homer in the ninth inning Wednesday, had two more home runs Thursday. Morales connected off Sean Manaea in the fifth and added a tying blast off Blake Treinen in the ninth, the 19th multihomer game of his career.

Treinen got the ninth in place of Santiago Casilla, who blew Wednesday's game. The Athletics have blown five of their past six save opportunities.

"We're just having trouble finishing off games," manager Bob Melvin said.

Toronto has hit four game-ending home runs this season, the third-highest total in team history. They hit six in 2011.

Josh Donaldson also homered for Toronto, a solo blast in the first.

Roberto Osuna (3-0) worked one inning for the win.

Marcus Semien had three hits and a walk for the Athletics, who have lost 12 of 13 in Toronto.

In the fifth, one batter after Blue Jays manager John Gibbons was ejected for arguing ball and strikes with home plate umpire Will Little, Stroman and catcher Russell Martin were both tossed. An irate Stroman charged toward home plate to confront Little, and had to be restrained by Martin and bench coach DeMarlo Hale.

Right-hander Chris Smith replaced Stroman and Miguel Montero took over for Martin.

Stroman allowed three runs and six hits in 4 2/3 innings, walking a season-high six. Asked about the ejection afterward, he had little to say.

"When it comes to umpires or any of that, I'm not going to be making any comments about that," Stroman said. "I want to make my next start."

Oakland struck quickly against Stroman, scoring three runs in the first against a pitcher who had allowed just four earned runs combined in his previous four July starts. Ryon Healy drove in a run with a groundout and Bruce Maxwell followed with a two-run single.

Donaldson replied with a one-out blast in the bottom half, his 10th, and Morales connected to begin the fifth, his 19th.

Toronto tied it in the sixth when Jose Bautista hit a leadoff double and scored on Justin Smoak's two-out single.

Troy Tulowitzki tried to score from second on Darwin Barney's two-out single in the seventh, but was thrown out at home plate by a strong throw from right fielder Matt Joyce.

Manaea allowed three runs and seven hits in seven innings.

"It kind of stings a little bit," Manaea said. "We had an opportunity to win and just didn't put it together."

Oakland broke a 3-all tie against Ryan Tepera in the eighth when Semien's two-out single scored Jaycob Brugman, but Morales answered in the ninth.


Oakland RHP John Axford, the NL saves leader in 2011, was designated for assignment. Melvin said it was tough to cut Axford, citing his veteran presence in the clubhouse. Axford went 0-1 with no saves and a 6.43 ERA in 22 appearances.


Blue Jays pitchers have an AL-worst 6.35 ERA in the first inning.


Athletics: C Josh Phegley (left oblique) was placed on the 10-day DL and C Ryan Lavarnway was recalled from Triple-A Nashville. ... RHP Ryan Dull (right knee) was activated off the DL, taking Axford's spot on the roster.

Blue Jays: Quality control coach Derek Shelton replaced first base coach Tim Leiper (illness) midway through the game.


Athletics: RHP Daniel Gossett (2-5, 5.40) starts the opener of a three-game home series against Minnesota. Gossett has allowed at least one homer in seven of his first eight starts. Newly acquired LHP Jaime Garcia (4-7. 4.30) goes for the Twins.

Blue Jays: LHP J.A. Happ (3-7, 4.13) starts the opener of a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels. Happ allowed a season-high seven earned runs in his previous outing, a July 23 loss at Cleveland. RHP Parker Bridwell (4-1, 3.09) starts for the Angels.

There was so much more to Bill King’s life beyond the broadcast booth


There was so much more to Bill King’s life beyond the broadcast booth

When the Hall of Fame presents Bill King with the Ford C. Frick award Saturday, it will be big not only for the multitude of fans that listened to him but the colleagues who worked alongside the legendary A's broadcaster.

“I think he was the very best radio sports broadcaster we’ve ever had in this country,” NBC Sports Bay Area’s Greg Papa said. “He’s just a radio genius. To me, he epitomized the Bay Area as a sportscaster because he was the Bay Area. His word choice, his vocabulary, the way he was able to describe things. In so many ways he was the perfect Bay Area radio broadcaster.”

King was the rare breed of broadcaster, someone versatile enough and knowledgable enough to excel at announcing three major sports — football with the Raiders from 1966-92, basketball with the Warriors from 1962-83 and baseball with the A’s from 1981 until his death in 2005.

It was baseball that was nearest to his heart. And while his expertise at describing a ballgame was unparalleled, there was so much more to King’s life beyond the broadcast booth. That’s something current A’s radio play-by-play man Ken Korach discovered in the decade he worked alongside King after joining the A’s in 1995.

Korach, who chronicled King’s career in the 2013 book “Holy Toledo: Lessons from Bill King, Renaissance Man of the Mic”, found himself visiting art museums with King during A’s road trips.

“He was a patron of the arts and the ballet, the opera,” Korach said. “One thing that people may not know is that he was a wonderful impressionist painter. He painted landscapes that were absolutely beautiful, breaththaking.”

Korach has one of King’s paintings hanging in his den.

Like King, Papa also announced three different sports at the same time for a period — football with the Raiders, basketball with the San Antonio Spurs and baseball with the A’s. When he joined the A’s television booth in 1990, King was a crucial resource for him.

“When I began doing A’s TV in 1990, I would listen to Bill and have a legal pad out and take notes,” said Papa, who still calls Raider games. “It was better than any research I could do. He was so meticulously prepared.”

Korach chuckled when recalling King’s idiosyncrasies in the booth, such as insisting the window always remain open regardless of the elements.

“Even if it was December in Cleveland, and it was a Raider game and snowing and 5 degrees, the window would stay open,” Korach said. “He was real meticulous with the way he would set up the table when broadcasting the game, all of the notes in a certain place. And the wind would just wreak havoc. There was one game when literally I was on the air and he just took all of his stuff and slammed it on the ground, he was so upset and frustrated.”

For many years King was bypassed for Cooperstown, his excellence in three sports probably robbing him of being appreciated in one specific sport. On Saturday, he gets the ultimate tribute in being inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Korach and his wife, Denise, will be on hand for the ceremony.

“The most important thing,” Korach said, “is what it means to A’s fans, and fans in the Bay Area in general.”