Bees catcher and ex-Taylorsville High product John Buck walked onto the field at Smith's Ballpark Tuesday for the first time in 16 years. The memories came rushing back.
"The first thing I thought of when I walked onto the field was literally the last time I was here I was getting piled on and scoring in that state tournament," Buck said.
Since helping the Braves secure the 1998 state title, Buck has traveled through the major leagues growing accustomed to playing baseball surrounded by cathedrals. The site of his high school heroics now pales in comparison.
"When I walked in (to Smith's Ballpark) I was like, 'Man, I remember this place feeling a lot larger,’ ” Buck said.
On July 15, Buck was waived by the Seattle Mariners and has now found a new home at his old one. Buck resides in Bluffdale, and he contacted the Angels to see if they could use another catcher, thinking he would play in Salt Lake.
"The situation I'm in and the situation (the Angels) have in the big leagues with probably being a playoff team, playoff teams always need another catcher," Buck said. "I'm old now for baseball, I have family now and stuff, it's just a perfect situation for me. I get to sleep in my own bed and play in Salt Lake."
Buck is not the only one of Taylorsville fame to have donned a Bees jersey and cap this season. Buck's high school teammate pitcher Brandon Lyon played the first few weeks of the season in Salt Lake.
Buck asked Lyon about his experience.
"He told me, 'You'll love it, you'll have fun. I had fun. You'll like sleeping in your own bed,’ ” Buck said.
The Los Angeles organization took advantage of Buck's close proximity to Smith's Ballpark.
When they called their new catcher, they asked if he was currently in Salt Lake, which he was. They quickly followed by asking if could be down at the ballpark that afternoon.
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"I pulled out all Mariners stuff and grabbed some gear that I had from playing in Pittsburgh last year and said, 'Yeah I'll be down there,’ ” Buck said.
After a memorable homecoming on Monday, Buck's bat went silent Tuesday as the Bees lost to Reno 4-1.
Buck is hoping that he can parlay his experience in Salt Lake to one more major league ride, but for now he just plans on enjoying his time at home.
"We will see what happens, but I like sleeping in my own bed," Buck said.