There has been one constant during the past eight years of journeyman pitcher Buddy Carlyle's career.
As he's bounced between the Braves, Yankees, Blue Jays, Mets and Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in Japan, Carlyle has tried to engage fans with a cool pregame ritual.
Before certain games, Carlyle, 37, will head to the outfield and play catch with kids. Here he is in two separate games this past weekend in Philadelphia:
Here's Carlyle in 2009 and 2007, respectively:
Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal caught up with Carlyle in the Mets' clubhouse and asked him about the tradition.
"It's something that's easy for me to do," Carlyle said. "I figure it's something they'll always remember."
Carlyle has never been a star, but he's managed to hang around as a pro since he was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the second round of the 1996 MLB draft. He's played in the majors or the minors for a handful of organizations, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres, Kansas City Royals and Florida Marlins. He's pitched 292 innings in 149 major league games, mostly in middle relief, and has a career ERA of 5.15. He has also put in work with teams in South Korea and Japan.
Carlyle, whose real first name is Earl, says he has been playing catch with kids in the stands since 2007. In this, his second season with the Mets, he's managed to earn some fans for the team. And if they won't root for the organization than they'll at least follow Carlyle.
"That's why you root for players," said Eric Wellington, whose 8-year-old daughter recently played catch with Carlyle in Philadelphia. "I'm not going to root for the Mets, but I will root for him."