tampabay.com

A Ray's shark tale

Reliever Scott Dohmann had just taken up fishing when he hooked a big one.

By Joe Smith, Times Staff Writer
Published February 25, 2008


ST. PETERSBURG

Scott Dohmann may be battling for a spot in the Rays bullpen, but the fight of his life likely came last month, on the rocky, warm waters of a fishing spot called "The Lump."

Dohmann, a 30-year-old right-hander, was with his wife, Tara, and buddy Tyler Watson, just 20 miles southwest of the Louisiana delta; Watson's 25-foot boat was soon taken to the limit when a quest for tuna took a trip on the wild side.

Dohmann, who just started to "dabble" in fishing after a lifetime of hunting small game such as geese and ducks, was using a blue runner his wife caught as bait.

"Team effort," Dohmann said, grinning.

Little did he know he would soon have some bigger fish to fry. As the water began to get choppy, Dohmann felt the tug of what turned out to be a 130-pound hammerhead shark.

The soft-spoken Dohmman was stunned. Without a chair, he stood against the side of the boat and reeled. And reeled. Doh-mann had silenced many big-league hitters, but this was like taming a bucking bull.

"My lower back was about to explode," he said. "Some sharks fight for four or five hours; this was only 45 minutes but it was constantly whipping my butt."

The New Orleans native had the last laugh, bringing in the 61/2-foot shark before holding it in his arms as he would a newly wedded wife to pose for a photo; he said they looked up cooking recipes online and ate parts of the tagged shark, giving the rest to friends.

Fittingly, Dohmann took the trip - only his second deep-sea fishing quest - because it was something he and his wife enjoyed together. The couple, married for seven years, went to Mexico in October and caught mahi mahi and were immediately hooked. Tara, who has two older brothers, loves the outdoors. Dohmann has ever since his father first took him hunting at age 7.

"It's a good offseason remedy to get away from the game and all the chaos and grind involved with baseball," he said. "It gets your mind off it."

Dohmann hopes to make his next trip to Saskatchewan to snag some Canada goose, though his latest catch has made him a bigger fan of deep-sea fishing. That can wait for the offseason, he hopes, considering he's in a tight competition for one of the final middle reliever spots.

"Scott's got a quiet confidence, a quiet killer if you will," pitching coach Jim Hickey said. "Some guys talk the talk and don't walk the walk. (Scott) doesn't do a lot of talking, but he certainly walks the walk."

Just ask the shark.

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@sptimes.com

Fast facts

Dishing on Dohman

- Dohmann's brother-in-law, Brandon Daigle, created a fan site for Scott, "Home of the DohBerMann," at sdfansite.blogspot.com/.

- Homer Simpson's infamous catch phrase, "Doh!" is played both at Tropicana Field, and at away stadiums - either to cheer, or tease him. "I hear it everywhere I go," Dohman said.

- Dohmann was born in St. Bernard, a New Orleans community hit hard during Hurricane Katrina. Though Dohmann has lived in Lafayette the past 12 years, his grandmother, Ivonne, "lost everything," he said. "She's fortunate to get her insurance money quickly."

- After getting recalled from Durham in July, Dohmann (3.31 ERA) pitched - mostly in the setup role - in 31 of the Rays 68 remaining games, more than any other Tampa Bay pitcher over that final stretch.

- Dohmann isn't the only Ray with outdoor interests. RHP Gary Glover also fishes, and Dohmann said he heard 6-foot-6 RHP Jeff Niemann would like to hunt. "He'd need a pretty big blind," he joked.