His Friends Called Him “Baby Justice”
As you read in one of my previous entries, “Rebel Baseball (The Summer of ’95,)” independent baseball has always interested me. Baseball books have always interested me as well, I’ve read dozens. I finished reading Rebel Baseball a couple of weeks ago, and I bought Wild and Outside, by Stefan Fatsis. Both books are very similar in topic, telling the story of the rebirth of the independent Northern League in the mid-90’s.
As I was reading Wild and Outside this book and becoming enthralled with the story of Miles Wolff and the Northern league, I came to page 56 of Wild and Outside, and something strikes me as odd, like I’ve read this story before. At first, I thought it was just something that I had read in Rebel Baseball, but it wasn’t. I couldn’t figure it out. Stefan Fatsis wrote, ” Stephen Charles Bishop turned twenty-three years old in September 1993…… Everyone said Bishop looked like another Braves star, David Justice; his friends even called him Baby Justice.” It all sounded like deja vu.
Then it struck me, how the name Stephen Charles Bishop was familiar to me. I follow my friend Casey Bond on Twitter. Casey is a former San Fransisco Giants farmhand, who has begun an acting career since hangin up the spikes. He’s been in a One A Day men’s vitamin commercial, had a few smaller parts on both the big and small screen, and is playing the role of Chad Bradford in the upcoming “Moneyball.” Casey often mentioned other stars of “Moneyball” during filming, among them was a gentleman by the name of Stephen C. Bishop. A quick internet proved my suspicions true, the same baseball player who an author had mentioned in a book published fifteen years ago as resembling David Justice, was now an actor, and playing the role of David Justice in an upcoming Brad Pitt flick.
According to Wild & Outside, “Baby Justice” signed with the Atlanta Braves as an undrafted free agent in 1992. He played well his first season of junior college ball, and many major colleges called. He struggled the following spring, but was offered a scholarship to UC-Riverside. He was undrafted after being named All-Conference the next spring. It wasn’t until he played well in a wood bat summer league, that the Braves called and offered him a $3,000 signing bonus. He declined and chose to go back to Riverside. He led the school with a .440 batting average, but was again undrafted. Finally, in the middle of September 1992, he got a message from the Braves offering him contract. He batted .382 and slugged .559 with the Idaho Fall Braves the following summer, but was released. The team decided, at twenty-three, he was too old for Rookie ball and they did not have room for him in the organization.
Stephen Bishop played the following summer with the St. Paul Saints and Souix Falls Canaries, which I’ll soon be reading about in Wild & Outside. In 1995, he was given one last shot in affiliated ball, playing for the Baltimore Orioles class A affiliate, the High Desert Mavericks. Since his playing days have ended, he’s carved out a successful acting career. He’s had roles in the movies “Hancock,” and “The Rundown,” as well as television roles in “Friday Night Lights,” “CSI: Miami,” “Lost,” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”
Stefan Fatsis wrote, “Bishop signed, dreaming of playing alongside his idol, David Justice……” Bishop never had the opportunity to play alongside David Justice, but he did get to play him.
Stephen C. Bishop on Baseball-Reference.com – http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/team.cgi?id=20693
Stephen C. Bishop on IMDB.com – http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1212071/
Casey Bond on IMDB.com – http://www.imdb.com/name/nm4000166/
Wild and Outside – http://www.amazon.com/Wild-Outside-Renegade-Baseball-Heartland/dp/0802774970