The “usual” catcher? The “usual” catcher isn’t 6-5.
The “usual” catcher doesn’t major in finance. The “usual” catcher doesn’t spend his downtime plucking start-up businesses out of the air.
“I’m trying,” Samford’s Richard Greene said, “to break the stereotype.”
After all, your friendly, neighborhood backstop “usually” isn’t behind an iTunes-ready app that allows consumers to search for quotes with the flick of a thumb.
Sorry. Check that. An almost iTunes-ready app.
“We have a beta version on my phone,” the senior catcher explained. “If you’re looking for a quote on the internet, almost all the quotes are famous people — Barack Obama, Martin Luther King, Albert Einstein. There aren’t quotes from the ‘smaller’ person, the ‘regular’ person.”
The notion of democratizing wisdom and sources — he christened the app “ZenVerse” — was hatched by Greene with his old buddy Josh Floyd, now a baseball player and accounting major across town at UAB, roughly 17 months ago.
“If people could, they wouldn’t necessarily have to quote famous people,” the Bulldogs backstop continued. “They could quote just your ordinary person who has something special and substantial to say.”
The (almost) finished product was entered last May at the Regions New Venture Challenge, a start-up competition put on by Samford’s Brock School of Business and Regions Bank. (The pair finished second. The winner? A landscaping and lawn care company founded by Warren Handrahan, a kicker on the Samford football team.)
“Just because people don’t have a lot of money or a lot of social clout, you still have very substantial things to say,” Greene said. “We basically wanted to give a voice to the little guy.”
Service was also at the heart of the other app on Greene’s entrepreneurial drawing board: SafeErth, a personal GPS system that can pinpoint a user’s location through Google Maps and relay it to Samford campus security.
“I got approval from the SGA (Student Government Association),” said Greene, who was hitting at a .288 clip with nine doubles as of April 18. “And I pitched it to the Senate. And after the Senate, I put it on the backburner.”
At any rate, the season loomed. A preseason All-Southern Conference pick, Greene is also on the watch list for the 2016 Johnny Bench Award, awarded annually to the top catcher in Division I. The Birmingham, Ala., native went into the third week of April ranked sixth in the league in base-runners caught stealing (nine) and eighth in opponent steal attempts (30), throwing out 30% of opposing base-stealers.
A live arm and a giving soul, Greene teamed with former Samford women’s soccer player Katie Danehy to help launch a Bulldog student-athlete mentorship partnership with the area’s Cornerstone Schools program. He’s also given his time to organizations such as The Exceptional Foundation, which assists children and adults with special needs; and with Samaritan’s Feet, which helps to provide shoes and opportunities to children in underdeveloped nations.
“While we put so much emphasis on being a good team and good athletes,” Greene said, “we put just as much time into being a great person and a great student.”
The giant heart has a big-time marketing nose, too: Greene spent some of last winter interning at WeWork in New York City, company that provides shared workspaces and community to entrepreneurs, small businesses and freelancers. He’s slated to graduate in May with a degree in finance.
“I always love creating new things,” the Bulldogs’ backstop said. “That’s really what sparked my love for entrepreneurship. And also, I’m a natural competitor … so if I have the opportunity to compete with other companies, other ideas, I love doing that. So the competitiveness, the creativeness, the eagerness to succeed — that really just transformed into a love for entrepreneurship. Since early high-school days, I’ve really known that I have a natural love for it.”
Lemonade stands. Car washes. Before he was a catcher with muscle, Greene was a kid on the hustle.
“I’ve always looked for specific opportunities to make money,” Greene said. “I’ve traded stocks since I was probably a freshman in college, so I’ve managed my own money in that way. I’ve learned a great deal. I also like learning by trial-by-fire — I just jump into a lot of things with both feet first. You learn a lot (that way). It can come back to bite you, (but) that’s just how I prefer to learn.
“I like to take calculated risks. I would say I’m not very risk-averse. I’ll say that. And I’m not afraid to fail.”
Or get dirty. When it comes to catching and the tools of ignorance, it’s an acquired taste, something that clicks or doesn’t.
“Ever since I was about 10 years old, I knew catching was my calling,” Greene said. “You’re active the entire game. There’s no dull moment. And you always have to be thinking. I love having to think about the next pitch, the next batter, who’s on deck, what we’re going to have to do to get people out.
“It’s one of the few positions where you can see everything as it happens and you’ve got to make the play and make decisions that have an affect all over the field. And that’s exciting. I get a big thrill out of that.”
Accent on the “big.” At 6-5, 208 pounds, Greene makes for a large target. Even in a crouch, the dude’s hard to miss.
“It’s fun,” he said. “I’ve never had a person (guess) that I’m a catcher; they’ll almost always guess ‘pitcher’ or ‘first baseman.’ So it’s kind of fun to kind of surprise people with that. I’ve never (thought) much of it, that I’m a ‘tall’ catcher, but people bring it up to me that I don’t fit the mode of a typical catcher. I strive to be different.”
In other words, business as usual.