Note: The Quad Cities River Bandits are the low-A affiliate for the St. Louis Cardinals. Living in Davenport, Iowa, I have the pleasure of watching these young prospects as they begin their careers. I had the opportunity to talk to Casey Rasmus for the UCB Radio Hour last week, and am happy to introduce him to you today.
The name and the number on the back of the jersey might be the same. They may have been drafted by the same organization, and even started their professional careers in the same place. But that is where most of the similarities between Casey Rasmus – the third of four Rasmus boys – and his oldest brother, Colby Rasmus end.
First of all, Casey, in his first full professional season, is a catcher for the Quad Cities River Bandits, who are currently one game back of the Midwest League West leaders. Colby, an outfielder, is settling in nicely for the Blue Jays in Toronto.
Regardless of the differences, playing in the Quad Cities does hold some weight within the Rasmus family history – as Cardinal fans will recall, Colby played at the riverfront stadium in in 2006. But Tony Rasmus, the boys’ father, also played in Davenport when the team was an Angels affiliate in 1988.
Rare as that fact might be for other baseball players, though, for Casey, it fits.
“It’s really neat,” Casey said. “Obviously I’ve heard a lot about the Quad Cities over the years. It’s really cool just to be able to play somewhere that has a little family history about it.”
That seems to be the Rasmus way — family, and baseball.
“It’s all I’ve ever known,” he recalled. “My whole life was pretty much just sports and being competitive. I grew up in a great family with two really loving parents and three awesome brothers, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
While the environment was certainly competitive with four boys all vying for a chance to make it in the game they had grown to love, it was never a matter of baseball being the only thing.
“My parents never made us play … they never pushed us to play baseball. They obviously encouraged it because it’s the best. It’s America’s pastime,” Casey said. “But, it was great growing up with all my brothers. It was really competitive, and obviously we all wanted to play and loved to play … because my dad loved the game. His love for the game grew on us.”
Naturally, there is never a shortage of advice as the brothers share their baseball journeys all across the nation. But, there is a healthy balance of competitive drive and unconditional support.
“Obviously, I try and do [well] and do better than my brothers,” Casey said, adding quickly, “I [also] wish the best for them and hope they do better than me.”
As for Casey, his focus is on his first full year in baseball. His immediate goals are simple: stay healthy, and work hard. His long-term goals are equally clear.
“[I want] to try and move up and make it to St. Louis one day, hopefully,” he said. “[I’m] just working every day to become a better ball player, to help the Quad Cities River Bandits win, and one day down the road help another team win.”
Winning is one thing the River Bandits have done a lot of lately, starting with the last week of the first half, including one of the most memorable games of the season for Rasmus.
It was the last game before the All-Star break, and two of the previous three games had ended in walk-off fashion. On this night, it came down to Virgil Hill – a good friend of Casey’s. With a runner aboard, Hill launched a two-run, walk-off bomb that left no doubt as it sent the River Bandits celebrating into the break.
“He’s a good friend of mine, so obviously it was really exciting for me to see him hit that ball,” Rasmus said. “I was on-deck when it happened, and I immediately just threw my hands up because I knew it was gone, right off the bat.”
It’s games like that that make the Minor League life – eight-hour bus rides and all! – worth it.
“Those are the games you live for,” Rasmus said. “Those are really exciting and it gets a lot of good energy flowing for the team. I think we used that to catapult us off to a strong start in the second half, and hopefully we’ll keep it going and ride this thing into the playoffs.”
Life for Casey and the Bandits isn’t all serious business, though depending on who you ask, things like twitter wars and late-night jam sessions could be considered exceptionally significant!
When asked about his, shall we say, profuse tweeting habits, Rasmus laughed. Hey, at least he knows his habits are a little bit extreme! And his fans love him for it.
“I think it’s great to be able to talk to a bunch of people,” he explained. “It’s a great way to meet people, and for people to get to know me a little bit. It’s just fun messing around with Twitter. I have a good time with it. I mean, that’s what it’s for, just to tweet and I sure enough tweet a lot!”
“Getting my money’s worth,” he added, laughing again.
Whether it’s song lyrics, game recaps, updates on the brothers, or the latest debate among teammates, Twitter gives you a glimpse into his world – one filled with baseball, family, and plenty of big dreams.
Throw in that family history of success and a healthy dose of hard work, and Casey Rasmus is well on his way to following in his brother’s footsteps … on his own terms.
Tara is a St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball and a contributor to Around the Horn. Follow her on Twitter @tarawellman.