Lefties’ center fielder Golden Tate rolls on the ground after making a diving catch in the top of the third to end Bend’s half of the inning on Tuesday in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Lefties’ center fielder Golden Tate rolls on the ground after making a diving catch in the top of the third to end Bend’s half of the inning on Tuesday in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

MICHAEL CARMAN COLUMN: Showtime Tate is no side show

Real deal as a baseball player

Rumblings that this was all a big stunt or that Golden Tate’s roster spot could have gone to another more deserving college prospect filled Olympic Peninsula social media Tuesday.

But around 7 p.m., the doubters were silenced when the former Notre Dame outfielder laced an RBI double to right field in his initial at-bat for Port Angeles and fans were reminded that Tate’s nickname is Showtime for a reason.

With the count 2-0 in his favor, Tate — naturally a lefty — pulled a pitch to right and later came home to score the tying run to cap a three-run first inning for Port Angeles. Tate’s slide into home plate on local Lefty Ethan Flodstrom’s RBI single left a little to be desired as it lacked the smoothness of Tate’s former Seattle signal-caller Russell Wilson, but a run is a run, right?

Later, Tate reached base with a single when he blooped a ball along the foul line into the no-man’s land between first base and right field and stole second base before being stranded.

That hit resembled many similar softball singles that find a way to fall in, so maybe Tate learned a bit of strategy when earning MVP honors in Richard Sherman’s celebrity softball game in Seattle (Sherman hired the referee from Tate’s “Fail Mary” catch vs. the Packers for the 2014 softball game was a stroke of genius).

And Tate added some flair in the outfield, tracking down a ball hit to deep center, capping the play and the inning with a tumble in the grass in the third and hauling in his other outfield chance of the game in the fourth.

Tate’s other two at-bats, a broken-bat ground out on an inside pitch and another ground out after a mid-appearance pitching change left him at .500 for the night.

This was obviously not a Bill Veeck-style promotion such as when St. Louis Browns owner brought in 3-foot-7 Eddie Gaedel to the plate in a bid to sell tickets to see the shortest man in MLB history play the game.

Tate immediately proved he belongs in the West Coast League with the RBI double, although this should have been the opinion of anybody who knew he was drafted twice by Major League Baseball teams, Arizona out of high school and San Francisco after hitting .329 in 54 starts in 55 games as a Notre Dame sophomore.

Maybe Tate, at 33, is serious about once again pursuing collegiate baseball. The press release announcing his signing made mention of Tate’s two years of remaining college eligibility.

So if Tate’s College World Series-bound Notre Dame doesn’t have a spot for him, the transfer portal is just as wide open and important in Division I baseball as it is in football or basketball.

The game of baseball may have transformed into an analytics-inspired series of launch-angle-heavy home runs and copious strikeouts while Tate was hauling in touchdowns and Pro Bowl honors, but Tate’s diamond skills showed no sign of atrophy Tuesday.

Let’s hope for more heroics — and warmer summer evenings to come.

________

Sports reporter/columnist Michael Carman can be contacted at [email protected]

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