Levels of the Game

April 17, 2005

AT 5'3" Louisville shortstop Chris Cates is believed to be college baseball's shortest player, dubbed Wee Man by his teammates and Oompa Loompa or Webster by opposing fans. One heckler suggested the groundskeeper cut the infield grass so Cates could see the plate. "I enjoy fans getting on me; they're having a good time" says Cates, a Florida native who's hitting .289 and whose older brother, Gary, is a 5'7" infielder in the Orioles' system. Chris has a knack for drawing key walks--and driving pitchers batty. "You throw what's normally a strike, and it's six inches above the zone," former East Carolina starter Greg Bunn says. "You've got to throw into a thimble pretty much."

A couple of feet up is Notre Dame's All-America closer, 7'1" Ryan Doherty, thought to be the tallest player in NCAA baseball history. Dubbed the Unit after Yankee Randy Johnson (who's 6'10"), Doherty, who grew up in Toms River, N.J., and can throw 90 mph, also hears it from fans. "I was jabbering with someone in the stands, and I said, 'I can't hear you,'" says Doherty. "He shot back, 'Why don't you come down to my floor?' That was amusing."

Last year, Cates ran into Doherty in the L.A. Airport. "It was like looking up at a giant," says Cates. Did Doherty recognize him? "Nah," says Cates. "He probably thought I was somebody's little brother." --Ben Reiter

TALE of the TAPE

RYAN DOHERTY

HEIGHT: 7'1"; WEIGHT: 255

SCHOOL, CLASS: Notre Dame, Jr.

POSITION: Closer

MAJOR LEAGUE IDOL: Randy Johnson

HAT SIZE: 7 5/8 SPIKE SIZE: 17

 

CHRIS CATES

HEIGHT: 5'3"; WEIGHT: 150

SCHOOL, CLASS: Louisville, Soph.

POSITION: Shortstop

MAJOR LEAGUE IDOL: Chone Figgins

HAT SIZE: 7 1/8 SPIKE SIZE: 8

COLOR PHOTODARREN CARROLL (DOHERTY)7'1" COLOR PHOTODARREN CARROLL (CATES)5'3"

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)