Ramon Hernandez Portraint painting
by sports artist John Robertson
50" x 70" acrylic on unstretched canvas
I painted Ramon Hernandez, an excellent catcher (and could play first base) because he was such a great workhorse for any team he played for – and he did play for a number of them. Ramon with the Oakland Athletics (1999–2003), San Diego Padres (2004–2005), Baltimore Orioles (2006–2008), Cincinnati Reds (2009–2011), Colorado Rockies (2012) and Los Angeles Dodgers (2013. He moved around a lot but was always a great contributor to whichever team he played for. He has an interesting position to play.
Here’s a funny story about Joe Torre who, among a number of great achievements was a great catcher. He was once asked why he became a catcher. “When I was 16 years old, my brother Frank said, 'You'd better become a catcher, because you're too big and fat to do anything else.' Well, I took his advice. It was a quick way to get to the big leagues, and I've never regretted it.” Now Hernandez never made the choice because he was six feet tall and weighed in at around one ninety. That’s not big and fat. Also he was a good hitter with a two-sixty-three hitting average over his long career.
Ramon Hernandez, like most catchers was the defensive leader on the field. He called the pitches and positioned players on the field and had a pragmatic view of baseball. The great pitcher Bob Feller said, "If you believe your catcher is intelligent and you know that he has considerable experience, it is a good thing to leave the game almost entirely in his hands."
Ramon had psychological insights and had a list of behaviors for each player approaching the batting box. His eyes were continuing to move across the field of play and his mind running the different offensive scenarios in his head. All of this going on with a baseball bat menacingly inches from his head. That is what good catchers did.