05/10/09 9:10 PM ET
Hunter dedicates sterling grab to mom
Center fielder makes game-saving catch in ninth on Sunday
By Torii Hunter / Special to MLB.com
I'm pretty sure she'll be happy with that.
Making a catch like that is a feeling that's so good, so awesome, it's hard to describe. I thought I had a chance when Miguel Olivo got into that ball, but I had a lot of ground to cover, because I was shading him over toward right-center. He's got some serious power.
There's a lot that goes into making a play like that. You have to get to the wall, but not too close, and you have to time it just right. After the game, I went and watched the replay in the video room with Justin Speier, and he said I had some serious hang time on it.
I felt like I could have dunked, two hands, over Shaq. I felt like a wide receiver did a slant, and I took him out.
Man, that was awesome. It's a very special win, coming back the way we did with three runs in the seventh, the bullpen doing a great job. Something like that can do a lot for a team.
When the game ended, Bobby Abreu and Gary Matthews Jr. came over and I was expecting the usual high-fives, but they both threw themselves into me and we had a three-way hug out there. It was just an expression of how great it felt, for all of us.
That's the kind of moment you live for as an athlete, to challenge yourself and make a play like that, with so much on the line -- and then to celebrate with your teammates.
I've made my share of catches like that, and this one ranks pretty high. But the best is the one on Barry Bonds in the 2002 All-Star Game in Milwaukee, when I took one away from him. That was on the big stage, my first All-Star Game, and it was an incredible feeling.
I take great pride in playing center field at a high level. I'm aware of some of the stat guys who are saying I've lost something, I'm not as good as I once was. Well, I just wanted to let you know I'm still me. I still can play the game. I know how to play center field. I still feel like I'm one of the best.
That's not being cocky. That's confidence.
People ask me what it takes to make a play like that, and it's hard to describe. It's just something that's in you. You have to have the athletic ability, first, and then instincts come into play. I try to teach my sons how to do it, and they get a little frustrated. Maybe they'll catch on.
It's like when Torii Jr. just missed a home run, the ball bouncing off the top of the fence. I told him to be patient, that he'll be getting stronger as he gets older, and those balls will start flying over the fence.
There were some great signs for us this weekend. We swept a really good club in the Royals. I like what they're doing. They play the game hard, and they play it right. Coco Crisp was a great pickup for them in center field, and they've got a lot of talent there. Big Olivo, he's something to watch. He's got a cannon for an arm, he can run, and he can put a charge in a ball.
He just hit that one in the wrong place today -- and I was able to get there.
There was another play I made earlier in the game that was unusual. They had a man on first, Mike Jacobs, and Alberto Callaspo hit a sinking line drive. I came up and played it on a hop and got rid of it as quickly as I could. There's an art to that. I threw that one three-quarters, and sometimes, if necessary, I'll come sidearm with a throw to get it there in a hurry.
I grew up playing shortstop, and that's how I play center field -- like a shortstop. I love making throws on the run, holding guys from taking an extra base. After the catch, they had a man on first and Coco hit a single to center, and I was able to keep the guy at second by getting to the ball and getting it back in as fast as I could.
There are so many elements to playing center field. It's my position, and I love everything about it.
Today was a great day to be in center field -- and to be an Angel.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.