Lucroy welcomes big fan into the Cave
Brewers catcher connects with Wisconsin woman during visit
NEW YORK -- A long line was forming outside the MLB Fan Cave on Monday morning in anticipation of that night's Adam Lambert concert, but one woman in particular stood out. Shirley Donnick was wearing a No. 20 Brewers jersey, watching her favorite player through a window.
Jonathan Lucroy was inside finishing up his first Fan Cave visit, chatting with the nine Cave Dwellers, when he noticed her outside the glass. She was there for him. First he went over to the window and motioned for her to turn around and show her jersey number -- his.
Then the Brewers catcher asked that she be brought inside. They had the kind of special moment that makes you know as a Major League Baseball player that you are loved, and as a fan makes you know that you are appreciated.
"It's a Mother's Day I'm never, ever going to forget," Donnick told Lucroy.
Donnick was there from Waterford, Wis., along with her son, Chad, and her cousin, Cindy Roessler of Florida. They had come to the Big Apple for Mother's Day weekend and they were going to the Brewers-Mets series opener Monday night at Citi Field. This was a "shocking" bonus, as Lucroy signed her shirt and gave them autographs and chatted about Wisconsin.
"It was pretty cool," Lucroy said. "Let her get in here, hang out a little bit with these people. It's a lot of fun. I think that's what the game's about: having fun, staying loose and joking, and just messing around. ... It's definitely good to have fans like that."
While Donnick joked that "I want him to all to myself," Lucroy is growing his fan base substantially this season. Lucroy, who signed a five-year contract just before the season opened, brought a .326 average into the series against the Mets. His .319 average when catching was second among National League backstops only to Philadelphia's Carlos Ruiz, who was hitting .330.
Lucroy batted second in the Brewers' past two games. Those were his first career starts at that spot in the lineup, a reflection of his hot bat.
When the first All-Star ballot voting updates are released soon, one could argue that the Brewers backstop deserves to be someone around the top at his position.
"We've got a lot of great catchers in this league," Lucroy said. "You've got [Brian] McCann, you've got Ruiz. You've got obviously Yadi Molina. I mean, you've got Buster Posey. There are some top-of-the-line guys, some best-in-the-world guys in what they do. To even be considered in that group is something I can't even imagine. All I'm going to do is keep working hard, and if I enjoy that honor, then great. If not, it's OK. I'm just trying to help my team win."
Lucroy, who turns 26 on June 13, went to high school in Umatilla, Fla., and then played at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. He said he "never really voted for All-Stars growing up," but now has a greater appreciation for fan voting.
"I watched the All-Star Game, but I never got into it and voted," he said. "Now that I'm in it and involved in the game now, it's a little different, because it's amazing when you can see the types of All-Star players and what makes them up. It's a pretty neat thing to see."
At the Fan Cave, Lucroy first had to make his way through roadies who were setting up the stage for the Lambert concert, part of the Cave Concert series. Fans were sitting with umbrellas on the sidewalks as he entered. Lucroy signed a Rawlings skin on the autograph wall, under the one Kate Upton recently signed, and then was whisked downstairs, where he taped a video that will be posted soon on MLBFanCave.com.
In the video, you will definitely learn some things about Jonathan Lucroy you didn't know before. Each of the Cave Dwellers got to take a turn asking him a question.
"Baseball isn't all business -- it's fun, too," Lucroy said. "The Cave Dwellers definitely understand that part of it. For me to be able to come in here and share it with them is pretty cool."
The Brewers enter the Mets series with a 15-19 record, tied with Houston for fourth in the NL Central. Lucroy, who batted .294 with a homer in the 2011 NL Championship Series against St. Louis, made it immediately clear that he is dissatisfied with what the club has shown so far -- regardless of Prince Fielder's departure via free agency or any other matters.
"I think we're a lot better than what we're showing," Lucroy said. "I don't think we're pitching as well as we could, I don't think we're hitting as well as we could, I don't think we're playing defense as well. Just the whole game in general, I don't think we are playing up to our par. I think we will."
As for the NL Central, Lucroy said he believes it is there for the taking.
"In past years, it's been a little more top-heavy, some teams are really good, other teams aren't good," he said. "I think this year the teams are real even for the most part.
"St. Louis has kind of pulled away a little bit, but I don't think they've hit their tough times yet. I think it will even out as the season goes along. Houston, they're a scrappy bunch. The Cubs, they're a scrappy bunch, we just played those guys. The Reds always are pretty solid. Ourselves, I think we're a scrappy, solid team, we're better than we're showing obviously. The Pirates are always going to hang around, too.
"I think we're all just fighting and scrapping to win. I think it's going to come down to the wire."
Donnick will be watching it closely, cheering for No. 20 all the way.
"I just always liked him," she explained of the swoon. "I just felt he was such a nice, natural, easy-going person. I've liked him from day one, when he joined the Brewers. I've just always been a fan of his."
"See you tonight," Lucroy told her before leaving.