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Q&A with Sacramento outfielder Braden Bishop

Catch up with Sacramento outfielder Braden Bishop, who talks about the hitting adjustments he made this year to set numerous career highs, his unique MLB debut, his family, and his Alzheimer’s charity, 4MOM.
Lincoln resident Braden Bishop sent the fans home happy after he launched a walk-off solo shot into left field in the bottom of the ninth. (Ralph Thompson Photo)
October 1, 2021

Q: You’re having a career-year offensively, with 12 home runs, 45 RBIs, and a .936 OPS (all career-highs). What changed or clicked for you this year? BB: I was actually thinking about this yesterday (Sunday). When I was with Seattle, I had my hands a little bit lower. When I

Q: You’re having a career-year offensively, with 12 home runs, 45 RBIs, and a .936 OPS (all career-highs). What changed or clicked for you this year?

BB: I was actually thinking about this yesterday (Sunday). When I was with Seattle, I had my hands a little bit lower. When I got DFA’d and ended up coming to Sacramento, they kind of threw out that I should raise my hands in my setup and see how it feels. I went from there. My contact definitely got better. I was hitting balls harder. I think over the course of the season, in 200-plus at bats, it definitely cleaned itself up to the point where I think I am in a better place offensively; just being more consistent. That’s obviously what it’s all about.

Q: I saw your brother Hunter Bishop (Giants’ No. 6 prospect on MLB Pipeline) tweet at the River Cats the other day when you went oppo for another home run. Have you always had the oppo power? You have been doing that a lot this year.

BB: Honestly, no (laugh). I am sure it’s been in there, but I hadn’t gotten to a place consistently enough where I could do that. I think it’s a combo of the work I put in and getting stronger in the weight room, and age. It helps more consistently.

Q: You have two walk-off home runs this season in the Dorados de Sacramento uniform. Is there something you like about those uniforms?

BB: I do like those uniforms (laughs). I have definitely thought about wearing it under my other uniform a couple times.

Q: With you, Bryce Johnson, Heliot Ramos, Jaylin Davis, Mike Tauchman; there’s so many really good defensive outfielders on this team. How fun is that, knowing that all three of whoever is out there can handle center field?

BB: It has its pros and cons. Obviously you’ve got to know who’s next to you. Like you said, everyone is a good defender. When you’ve got a guy who can play center, who is playing a corner, you’ve got to know his range and what side he is good toward: glove side or off side. But it’s definitely a lot of fun. If I’m playing left, the guy in center covers ground so you don’t have to be as aggressive to the gap side. You can be more aggressive on the line. It helps take away some cheap hits from the other team.

Q: You took over for Ichiro in the Tokyo Dome for your MLB debut. What was that like?

BB: It was like a movie. The whole sequence of events, you don’t realize in the moment, but then you look back and are like “I can’t believe I was a part of that.” Ichiro is — I mean it’s hard to describe. He has Godlike, superhero vibes over there. Because in Japan they take their baseball like religion. To just be a part of that — whether I replaced him or not — just to be a part of him retiring in his home country was incredible. Obviously coming in for him, that’s something unique that I get to carry with me forever.

Q: What was that experience like going to Japan? Last year a lot of players had different MLB debuts (with no fans in the stands), but having an MLB debut on another continent is definitely different.

BB: It was such a unique and special experience. Like I said, they take baseball like it’s religion over there. They don’t have football. Baseball is their everything. The fans are so nice. At the time, I was pretty much the “26th guy” on the roster and I would walk out of the hotel and there would be groups of people following you down the street. That’s as the 26th man. So if you’re someone like Ichiro, you probably can’t even go out in public. It was definitely a different experience. I am very grateful I got to experience it.

Q: Your family engages with @RiverCats on Twitter all the time. It seems like you are all very close. How has your family shaped you into the person and ballplayer you are today?

BB: I think more so as the person. The way my mom and dad raised me, it equipped me with skills and qualities to serve other people. I actually texted my dad today and I tell him every once in a while that I don’t think I would affect people the way I do if they didn’t raise me the way they did. That’s them planting seeds of humility, gratitude, and gratefulness when I was a teenager. It’s evolved and blossomed into how I view and serve other people, whether it’s teammates, the community, or other people suffering from Alzheimer’s.

*Q: Would you like to share more about the 4MOM Charity and explain what it does? *

BB: I don’t think Alzheimer’s and dementia are talked about enough. I think it’s a pretty confusing disease compared to others in the public eye. I think, since there’s no cure or real treatment for it, it can be scary for people. The ultimate goal is to find a cure for it, but at this time, it’s not really realistic. Charities like ours raise awareness and help out caregivers because you have the affected patient, but you also have the affected family members and primary caregivers. There’s no book to teach you how to deal with all the ins and outs of the disease. The Alzheimer’s Association and the 4MOM charity, we’re resources for these families. Hopefully we can get to the point where we can provide the answers, we can be the book to show people’s families “OK, there might not be a cure, but it’s not hopeless.” That’s been our goal: to try and provide some sort of hope in such a dark disease. The people in our organization are doing really good work connecting with families and people who are hurting. The motto we’ve adopted is “We want to be the charity that will go into these people’s homes, sit on their couch, and cry with them.” We want to be that intimate of a charity. I think we’ve done a really good job. I can proudly say it’s not just me, but it’s our director Ashley, our director of events Leo, and all the people in our organization who brought us to this point where we can affect people in a positive way. That makes me pretty satisfied.

Q: Thank you. To close it out, first season with the River Cats, what are your favorite moments from the year?

BB: I am very grateful for this year and to be a part of this group. I think every year has its unique moments. Just thinking back on some, to watch guys who I might have played against in the past, or only known them as players, to get to know them on a personal level like Mauricio Dubón, Thairo Estrada, and a couple other guys. That’s been the most special. I think the relationships you make throughout a season help you grow as a person and help you learn about other people who you watched from a distance. That’s what I will take with me going forward.

*If you would like to read more about the 4MOM Charity, or would like to donate, click HERE.