Every team’s got a bullpen catcher. He’s not a player, but he does help with player-type duties, specifically catching in the bullpen, but also warming up players and being a quasi-member of the coaching staff.
Chad Noble was brought on to the Cubs staff in 2014. And now, he’s departing:
Chad Noble, formerly the Cubs' bullpen catcher, will join the Pirates as a catching coordinator, per sources. That's a position John Baker said in November the Pirates were looking to add.— Jason Mackey (@JMackeyPG) January 5, 2022
Congratulations to Noble — that’s now an official coaching position. And you can see the connection, as John Baker was a Cubs player in 2014 and served in the Cubs front office as a special assistant and member of the mental skills department from 2015-20. Baker is now the Pirates’ director of coaching and player development. (Which, in my opinion, was a big loss for the Cubs and I hope they can bring him back someday.)
Noble was the Cubs’ 37th round pick (back when the draft had that many rounds!) in 2010 out of Northwestern. He played four years in the system from 2010-13, mostly in the lower levels with a handful of games at Double-A and Triple-A, and posted a .211/.266/.269 slash line in 221 minor league games before joining the Cubs as their bullpen catcher.
Why am I writing this article? Because Noble was a character well known to many fans and well-liked by Cubs players, much more so than any other bullpen catcher I can remember. There was a year or so where he wore a hoodie on the field for pregame warmups no matter how hot it was.
Here, Noble snags a foul ball in the on-field bullpen in 2014:
And you can see him in the hoodie here in 2016, when Cubs relief pitchers made a game of sitting motionless when foul balls came their way:
Then there was this, after the Cubs won the NLCS in 2016:
Bullpen catcher Chad Noble everyone. pic.twitter.com/4jLHuuslA3— jon greenberg (@jon_greenberg) October 23, 2016
Bullpen catcher Chad Noble going all out in celebration: pic.twitter.com/ED2Z7gvX2O— Cubs Talk (@NBCSCubs) October 23, 2016
Over the last couple of years — and now I wish I had taken video of this so I could show you — when Cubs relievers came out to left field toward the bullpen, Noble would throw three baseballs onto the rooftop at 1032 W. Waveland, every single game. He loved engaging with fans and the feeling was mutual. Twelve years is a long time to spend in a baseball organization in these sorts of roles and I wish Noble nothing but the best in his new role with the Pirates. He’ll be missed.
Lastly, the Cubs made another organizational move Wednesday that you should know about:
Ed Blankmeyer spent 24 seasons as St. John’s University’s head baseball coach before joining the Mets before the 2020 season. He managed the Brooklyn Cyclones in 2021. The Cubs are bringing in an experienced and respected baseball coach. https://t.co/bSEgXVyzlv— Greg Zumach (@IvyFutures) January 4, 2022