10 questions with former Astros and Cardinals pitcher Chuckie Fick

MILWAUKEE, WI - JULY 31: Chuckie Fick #28 of the Houston Astros pitches during the game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on July 31, 2012 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - JULY 31: Chuckie Fick #28 of the Houston Astros pitches during the game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on July 31, 2012 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images) /

Chuckie Fick was drafted in the 15th round of the 2007 MLB draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. Over the course of the next five seasons or so, Fick, the nephew of former All-Star Robert Fick, progressed his way through the minor leagues with ease, ultimately making his MLB debut on May 26, 2012 as a member of the Cardinals.

Used primarily as a starting pitcher while ascending through the ranks with St. Louis, Fick was used exclusively as a relief pitcher upon his call-up. In two appearances out of the Cardinals ‘pen, Chuckie Fick pitched just an inning and a third, giving up one run and walking one while not registering a strikeout.

Fick’s longest, and ultimately last, MLB stint came as a member of the Houston Astros, who claimed the then-26-year old righty off of waivers on July 27, 2012. With 18 more appearances under his belt at the conclusion of the 2012 regular season, Chuckie Fick finished with a 4.38 ERA, 17 strikeouts and 18 walks before being released by the Astros in June of 2013.

Over the course of the next few seasons, Chuckie Fick made appearances in foreign leagues where he could. The 2014 season saw him as a member of the Mexican League’s Olmecas de Tabasco and 2015 saw Fick make appearances out of the starting rotation for both the Lancaster Barnstormers (of the Atlantic League) and EDA Rhinos (of the Chinese League, or the CPBL).  While Fick’s tenures with the independent and foreign league teams were brief, he was able to bring his walks down and strikeouts up.

While some of his numbers may not jump out as a superstar-level player, Chuckie Fick played in parts of nine seasons in professional baseball. He appeared in over 270 games — starting 39 of them — he put up a stellar 3.82 ERA and struck out 371 against 185 walks in more than 530 career innings, a heck of a baseball career.

Recently, I had the chance to chat with former Major League Baseball reliever Chuckie Fick and pick his brain a bit about various experiences he had throughout his professional baseball career, including his time with the Houston Astros and St. Louis Cardinals. Let’s dive in.

Q1: Your last professional appearance of any kind was back in 2015. Do you consider yourself officially “retired?” If you do, was the decision to end your playing career an easy one? Are/were you at peace with the decision?

Yes, I am hands down officially “retired.” Most players don’t really get to choose when they walk away from the game, and my decision was a little bit forced, along with my own decision. I had been released from playing in Taiwan, and I was really battling some arm issues that allowed me to pitch, but the five to seven days in between starts were horrible, and every morning I woke up on my start day was a roll of the dice if I felt good enough to go. I had opportunities to go play again, but after 2013, I felt like a mercenary, and I never knew when or where my next paycheck was going to come from. I never identified as a “baseball player.” It was my job and not my identity, so to not play anymore was not a big emotional decision for me. For the amount of attention I garnered out of high school, college, and even while in pro ball, I consider my career a success. I patted myself on the back, called my agent and told him I was done. Two days later, I hopped on a flight to Nicaragua to go surfing, and the rest is history.

2. Can you describe where you were and what you were doing the first time you were told that you’ve been promoted to the Major Leagues?

We had just gotten back from an eight-day road trip to Las Vegas and Tucson. I was closing at the time, and felt like I was “next up.” During the road trip, two other pitchers were sent up and not me. I was beyond frustrated while in Las Vegas then, during the Tucson series, I gave up four runs in two outings. I felt like the small window of opportunity had closed and I was destined to spend the year in Triple-A again.

We flew back extremely early from Tucson to Memphis and, after the game, the pitching coach told me to come in the video room to watch some video. Instead of going to the video room, we went into the coaches’ office (which was strange). Then when we got to the coaches’ office, he said we should go watch it in the manager’s office. Once he said that, my internal alarm started going off. Something was up, but I didn’t know what. Once we got to the manager’s office, he told me to sit down and broke me the news that I was going to the big leagues. I called my dad to tell him the good news, and he didn’t answer. I called my mom and she didn’t answer. I called my fiancé at the time, and she didn’t answer. Then I called my dad again, and he finally picked up and I told him the news and he didn’t believe me. I was 30 seconds into the call with my dad and my mom finally called me back. I hung up on him and told her the news. She was obviously elated.

Once I got off the phone with everyone, they started the planning of how they were going to get to St. Louis the next day. The weird thing about that night is that all my teammates had already left for the night, and so I packed my stuff in excitement all by myself. I was always one of the first ones to the field and definitely one of the last ones to leave. It wasn’t because of my extra work or anything, I just enjoyed being there as opposed to sitting in my apartment that didn’t have cable or internet.

3. You were never traded in your professional career, but at one point you were claimed off waivers by the Astros. Can you describe the emotions you were feeling when you were notified that you are now a member of another team? Especially leaving the Cardinals, the only professional team you’d ever known to that point.

This was bittersweet for several reasons. I obviously only knew the Cardinals organization at the time, but I knew my time there and my opportunity had sort of closed. I was in Nashville when I was claimed off waivers by Jeff Luhnow and the Astros. Jeff and I had known each other for years. My dad had worked under him with the Cardinals and he and I had met, had dinner, and talked about players several times in my life. When he called to tell me that the Astros had claimed me and I needed to get on a flight to Houston and be ready to pitch that night, it was a like a shot in the arm. Getting DFA’d and feeling like you’re on the scrap heap, and then getting a new team right away and going back to the big leagues was the lowest low to the highest high. I only had my red cleats and Cardinals gear with me, along with four days of clothes while on the road trip. Like most ballplayers, I just went where life took me and told myself I would figure it out later.

4. Who was your first big league strikeout? Do you still have the ball from strike three?

My first strikeout was the pitcher Yovani Gallardo in Milwaukee. I don’t have that ball, but I have the ball and scorecard from my debut.

5. What has life after baseball looked like for you? Keeping busy I hope? Do you still hangout with any former teammates of yours?

Life after baseball has been great. I miss the game, the traveling, and the clubhouse, but I think I have done a great job of separating my past life to my present one. It took me a couple years to find my niche in the professional world, but I have a great job, two wonderful little girls, and enjoy being able to golf and surf for more than four months out of the year. I keep in contact with a handful of my former teammates. We are all friends and have group chats and such, but we don’t see each other because we are spread throughout the country.

6. In your entire professional career, you earned just a single base hit, a double back in 2010. Do you remember who gave up that hit?

I do. It was off Greg Reynolds from the Colorado Rockies. My roommate’s mom was in town that week visiting him, and she thankfully got the hit on video. I consider it one of my claims to fame!

7. In your opinion, who is the most exciting young player in today’s game?

Fernando Tatis Jr. or Ronald Acuña Jr. Guys who are dangerous at the plate and on the base paths are so fun to watch. I almost prefer to see them single up the middle, and then watch the cat-and-mouse game ensue of trying to steal second base. He’s not really young anymore, but Jacob deGrom is a must see. I would pay a good amount of money to see behind home plate and watch him carve through a lineup for seven innings.

8. Name a TV show you’ve watched all the way through more than once. I know my personal list is a very long one….

The Office about seven or eight times.

9. Who is the funniest teammate you ever had?

Former Yankee reliever Scott Patterson was the funniest guy, in my opinion.

10. You’ve been selected as one of the writers who gets a vote in this year’s Hall of Fame induction. Who, if anyone, is on your ballot?

I did a mock ballot years ago, and they are not easy. I have split opinions on whether some guys are deserving to get in because of past steroid use and such. That being said, on this year’s ballot my choices would be:

Barry Bonds

Roger Clemens

Jeff Kent

David Ortiz

Andruw Jones

Manny Ramirez

Alex Rodriguez

SCOTT ROLEN- Get this man in!

Curt Schilling

Billy Wagner

I chose these guys because they were the best at the position they played. As players, we don’t have a choice of where we play on the field or the role we have on the team.

Next. 10 questions with Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Max Kranick. dark

Thank you so much to Chuckie Fick for taking the time to chat with me, it was a pleasure. Chuckie is part of the second installment of “10 Questions With” that I’ve started. With multiple former and current players in the queue, what kind of questions would you like to see asked to a big leaguer?