The fans in the bleachers at Tumwater High School’s girls basketball games are doing it wrong. At least, 4-year-old Payton Vogt thinks so.
When the T-Birds are close to notching a victory, students often start chanting, “I believe that we will win.”
But in Oakland, where Payton watches her father, Stephen Vogt, play catcher for the Athletics, the words are a bit different.
“It’s funny because they’ll do it at the basketball games, and my daughter will be like, ‘No, it’s I believe in Stephen Vogt,’ ” the ballplayer said. “She doesn’t really understand, so it’s kind of funny. It brings back memories of being in season and playing.”
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Vogt, a Tumwater resident during the offseason, is beginning his fourth season with the A’s. He said Oakland’s fans coined his rendition of the chant in 2014 when he was playing right field.
“He just is humbled that people are even cheering for him, to be honest,” said Alyssa Vogt, Stephen’s wife and the girls basketball coach at Tumwater High. “It’s nothing that he expects. He never thought he would ever get to this point.
“Every time, still, it’s an honor to be able to have that fan base. Really for him, he just feels so blessed to be in that situation.”
In 2015, Stephen Vogt was an All-Star for the first time after batting .287 in the season’s first half with 14 home runs and 56 RBIs. He hasn’t let up much this season. He’s hitting .273 in the 10 games he’s appeared in.
“We expect big things out of him, and he expects big things out of himself,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “We talked some about trying to get him more rest this year — he can get a little banged up with his workload behind the plate. But, yes, we are very confident he will have another good year.”
The Vogt family — Stephen, Alyssa, Payton and 1-year-old son Clark — lives in Oakland about seven months out of the year. They head back to Tumwater when the major league season ends — so, hopefully, in October, Alyssa said.
“For me, my offseason consists of family time, and also getting my work in,” Stephen said. “I got a lot of good work in this winter. Every year you have to get better and keep working, especially as you get older. I’m 31. I’m not 23 or 24 anymore. I had to work harder this winter than in the past.
“I don’t want to relax. I want to get better every year to be the best I can be. I want to be as good as I can and provide for my family, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
He spends a lot of the offseason working with Capital graduate — and current Triple-A Durham manager — Jared Sandberg. And even when Vogt is not working out at a gym, he’s still sometimes at the high school gym helping Alyssa with practice.
“She’s the basketball mind, I’m not,” Stephen said. “I’ll go into practice and help out just being an extra body, but I’m not a coach. That’s her world. I’m there to be the supportive husband and dad.”
Stephen usually rallies the kids for games, and they cheer from the bleachers.
“He’s really good at letting me do my thing,” Alyssa said. “And that’s what I appreciate the most. I appreciate that he’s able to kind of take that back seat and ... blend in to the crowd, just like I am here for him. He does the same thing.”
However, she says she can hear his voice a little louder than he can hear hers sitting in the stands.
Stephen Vogt recently wrapped up his first trip of the season to Seattle — the A’s swept the Mariners in the three-game series.
“Tumwater’s a great fan base, but Felix Hernandez is pitching, so, of course, there’s just a little bit more (noise),” Alyssa said.
She said Stephen adds a good energy to basketball practices and games, too. He does it all during the offseason, just like she does it during the baseball season.
“During the (basketball) season, it’s the exact opposite,” Alyssa said. “He’s there, he’s wanting to be that caregiver and wanting to be the parent. He brings them (their children) to the games. He packs them dinner, or snacks that he makes.”
She said Stephen is good on the grill, but wouldn’t exactly call him a world-class cook.
For one of their first dates, Stephen and Alyssa played two-on-two in a gym at Azusa Pacific University, where they went to college. Stephen and one of his teammates from the baseball team versus Alyssa and one of her teammates from the women’s basketball team.
“They killed us, so we had to make dinner for those two — that was the wager we had on the game,” Stephen said.
How did the fettucine alfredo turn out?
“It was outstanding,” Stephen said.
“It wasn’t,” Alyssa responded. “It was out of a box — the plastic tins that you warm up in the microwave and you dump on some noodles.”
Maybe Stephen has bigger aspirations anyway. There’s a T-shirt circulating that endorses his candidacy for federal office. It reads, “Vogt for President: I believe in Stephen Vogt.”
“He might be a pretty good one,” Alyssa joked. “He’s for the people.”
And the people are for him. Stephen said he often can hear his chant when the A’s play on the road.
“It’s really cool,” he said. “Our fans in Oakland are crazy, and they’re awesome, and they support us all the time. It’s pretty special.”