Entertaining the Bakersfield Way
A savory chicken dish works very well as a main course. The following recipe is simple, flavorful, and will impress just about anyone.
Written by Bakersfield Magazine
Ryan Tatusko, Pitcher
Finger position is everything. As any pro can tell you, a fifth of an inch can make the difference between a ball and a strike; a run and an out; a win and a loss. That’s what Ryan Tatusko is banking his future on.
The 24-year-old Blaze pitcher makes sure his fingers are just where they need to be each pitch, each game. But before the wind up, the control, pressure, and grip must be checked, re-checked, and perfect.
There are a lot of things to think about when you’re standing on the mound. And those are just the physical demands.
“A pitcher, more than anything, has to have mental toughness,” Tatusko mused. It’s easy to get psyched out when that type of pressure is riding on your shoulders...or more specifically in your hand.
“You can go out and for six innings dominate. You don’t give up a hit. But that next inning you give up four hits and no one remembers the six innings.”
But pitching is a labor of love for this Merrillville, Indiana native, who started taking lessons at a young age. And those lessons weren’t cheap—but Tatusko struck a deal to help ensure a successful career in baseball. The lessons he received were taught by an ex-Chicago White Sox player in exchange for hours worked in his shop.
“I knew how hard of a career choice this was,” he added. “But my dad told me from a very young age that no matter how good you are, no matter how hard you throw, there is always going to be someone in this world better than you. But there is nobody that has to out-work you.” It’s this motto that has helped Tatusko go from playing college ball at the University of Indiana to being recruited and contracted by the Texas Rangers, the Bakersfield Blaze’s Major League Affiliate. And a certain amount of that motto rings true when you find out that this young athlete, in his first year here, threw the first one-hitter the Blaze has seen in years.
“It felt like any other game at first. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t aware of it. But I tried to keep everything light-hearted in the dugout and not psyche myself out. Early in the game, I’m just joking around with the back-up catcher and another fielder about the difference between Venezuelan-Spanish and Spain-Spanish, and after each inning, I’d notice they’d talk less and less to me. Finally, when I came in for the ninth inning, and it was still a no-hitter, I noticed everybody in the dugout was was crammed together on one side. So there I am, sitting by myself. I kept calling people out to talk to me but they would shake their head and mumble something about not ‘ruining it’,” Tatusko laughed.
Though a batter from Modesto went on to get a base hit, Tatusko—who was named one of the California League’s Pitchers of the Week in July—is still amazed at the feat. And it happens that Modesto batter was able to get that hit off Tatukso’s go-to, number one pitch: the fastball. Which happens to clock in at around 90 miles per hour—that’s Major League fast. “I tipped my cap to him because he beat me at my best,” he smiled.
Of course he’s ultimately working toward finding a place in the “bright lights” surrounding the Majors, but laughs saying “it’s like chasing a running target. As you do better, the lights get brighter, but they always elude you.”
Tatusko takes everything in stride, grinning as he admits his weaknesses, and modestly talking about his achievements.
“Ultimately, the best thing about being a pitcher is that the game doesn’t happen until I do something with the ball. That pressure is what keeps it fun. I’m going to play until someone rips the jersey off of me.”
Article appeared in our 26-3 Issue - August 2009