Cy Young Award winner Brandon Webb visits Cooperstown
Webb, arguably the best pitcher in the game during a three-year stretch in the first decade of the 21st century, visited the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on June 6.
Surrounded by the bronze images of the sport’s best, he knew that, if not for an injured right pitching shoulder, he had a chance to join them.
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Webb’s bread and butter pitch was a sinker that he said “came out of nowhere.”
“After I got drafted, I remember throwing some bullpens and it was just working on a two-seam,” Webb recalled. “One of the coaches, Royal Clayton, was my pitching coach my first year with South Bend in the Midwest League and was like, ‘Hey, let’s work on that sinker next Spring Training.’ I’m like, ‘All right, sounds good.’ So we did and it just kind of evolved to that was my pitch.
“Some games I threw the sinker 90 percent of the time. I just kind of evolved into a sinkerballer. Growing up, I was a huge Greg Maddux fan. That was my guy, just watching what he could do with the ball. Obviously I wasn’t him, but I kind of patterned myself on him and used that pitch to get tons of ground balls.”
A television broadcaster for the past decade, today he’s a pre- and postgame analyst on D-backs games for Bally Sports Arizona.
“It keeps me around the game,” Webb said, “so that’s enjoyable for me.”
Webb and his family – including wife Alicia, sons Austin (12) and Jase (8), and daughter Reagan (16) – all travelled from their Arizona home to the Cooperstown area as his eldest son participated in an area baseball tournament.
“This is my first time here in Cooperstown. Even being from Kentucky, it’s not that far away. But just never ventured my way up here,” Webb said. “Baseball has been my whole life from T-ball all the way up to the big leagues, so to finally be here is pretty sweet. To be in the Plaque Gallery and just see all the guys that I played against, it gives you chills. It’s awesome. It’s a special place.”
One plaque Webb made a point of checking out was the one for Randy Johnson, the Class of 2015 inductee who was a D-backs teammate in 2003 and ‘04.
“He still comes to the Diamondbacks games, so I’ll see him around,” Webb said. “I just took a picture of his plaque and I’m going to text it to him showing him that I was here.”
Bill Francis is the senior research and writing associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum