Skip to main content

Arden Advocate

Knocking down Barriers and Beer Cans

Jul 25, 2022 12:00AM ● By Story and photos by Shaun Holkko, sports editor

River Cats outfielder Austin Dean leads off from second base during a 13-5 victory over the El Paso Chihuahuas on June 22 at Sutter Health Park in West Sacramento.

Knocking down Barriers and Beer Cans [5 Images] Click Any Image To Expand

The story of River Cats outfielder Austin Dean

WEST SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) – Have you ever seen that viral video from September 2019 when a Miami Marlins outfielder threw a baseball at a tower of beer cans? If you haven’t, you’re missing out.

The Major League Baseball (MLB) player who participated in such a unique, in-game, event was Austin Dean, who is now with the San Francisco Giants’ Triple-A affiliate, the Sacramento River Cats. The viral moment occurred on Sept. 20, 2019, during a matchup between the Marlins and eventual World Series Champions, Washington Nationals, a game that the Nationals won 6-4.

Dean’s game within the game didn’t take place in just any regular season affair. The video of Dean recorded by a fan went viral across the country on the same day that Miami suffered its 100th loss of the season. Therefore, some fans in attendance at what was once known as “Marlins Park,” now known as LoanDepot Park, needed some extra entertainment to get through the end of what had been a tough season for Marlins fans.

“The funny thing about it was, is that they had already started that pyramid by inning one. So, it was working its way up,” Dean told the Messenger Publishing Group with a smile before taking on the El Paso Chihuahuas at Sutter Health Park on June 22. “It was (being built at) the AutoNation Alley (Deck) so there were quite a few people, I’d imagine they were taking everybody’s (beer can) there. There were at least three guys, because I got to meet them afterwards, there was three guys that were really contributing to it.”

Dean was impressed with the commitment and determination of the three gentlemen building the pyramid. The video, originally posted by the Marlins’ Twitter account, shows the pyramid at a strong and sturdy 54 cans by the time Dean caved into the fanatics’ demands.

“They started it in the first inning,” Dean said. “By the third inning, they started kind of wanting me to do it. And I was like, ‘No I can’t do it.’ (Again, in the) fifth inning, (then) the seventh inning rolls around and it’s huge, it’s at its peak. I finally looked at them like, “you know what, whatever, I’ll give it a shot.’ I finally looked at them and gave them the nod.”

By that point, Dean was in, and operation beer can pyramid was a go! The 28-year-old outfielder, who was 26 at the time, slowly walked towards the fans standing in left-center field, lined it up, and as NBA broadcaster Mike Breen would say, “BANG,” bullseye. Dean didn’t take down the entire pyramid, but he perfectly nailed the single beer can standing atop the five-story creation.

“My biggest thing was like, ‘alright, I can’t go short here, you can’t miss it,’ right? Just aim for the vicinity of the area and just hope we knock some down, right? I throw the ball, had a little cut on to it, and it was just perfect,” Dean explained. “Knocks the top can over, they go nuts, I’m (standing) there like, ‘there’s no way I just did this.’ I go to center field, I’m talking to Lewis Brinson who’s out there and Jon Berti’s out there, and I’m like, ‘Dude, I just hit that pyramid out there.’”

His teammates at the time doubted him, but the video evidence spoke for itself, garnering 3.4 million views just on Twitter with what Dean described as a “fun moment.”

“After the end of the game, (my) phone is just blowing up,” Dean recalled. “Probably 300-500 messages, just like notifications about all that going on. I was like, ‘this is absolutely incredible.’ If you get me to do that again, there’s no chance that I could do that again. I wasn’t looking for clout.”

Dean explained that the video gets posted randomly, once or twice a year, by various baseball accounts on social media. However, the various accounts usually don’t tag him in the video because nobody seems to remember that he was the guy that made the moment happen!

As for Dean’s career on the field, he was traded from the Marlins in January 2020 to the St. Louis Cardinals, who have arguably the best fans in all of MLB according to many.

“I would agree, they have probably one of the best fan bases in baseball,” Dean said. “Especially playing in Busch Stadium as a Cardinal is awesome. I’ve played as an opponent as well and I can even say, it was even great there. Everybody was super nice in the outfield. When you go to New York and Philly, you’re getting ragged on and get a couple swear words thrown at you there every once in a while. But there, it felt really nice, that’s the epitome of baseball right there, (with) amazing fans and an amazing atmosphere as well.”

Dean spent the 2018 and 2019 seasons with Miami before playing two seasons in St. Louis in 2020 and 2021. On Nov. 5, 2021, the Giants claimed Dean off waivers. In March 2022, he was designated for assignment and began his career as a River Cat.

“Austin comes to play every day and he’s the same guy,” River Cats manager Dave Brundage told MPG on June 22. “He might be goofy at times, (but) he’s here to play and wants to win, he wants to succeed and he brings a lot of energy every single day. I appreciate that from a manager’s standpoint, somebody that loves to play the game and plays it correctly. He’s got a lot of talent too; he’s just putting it all together (with) him being more consistent along the way. Seeing what he can do defensively, he plays left and right (field), can run well, swings the bat with power, he does a lot of things well and a lot of little things well. He’s a good teammate.”

So far this season for Sacramento, Dean has a (.249) batting average with 11 home runs, 36 RBI and 68 strikeouts in 68 games played.

“He is really good in the clubhouse and has been a really good leader,” River Cats hitting coach Damon Minor said about Dean to MPG in a phone interview on June 23. “On the field, he has been a really good strength (for us). He’s athletic, really can run, really handles left-handed pitching well, which in today’s game is really good being a right-handed hitter. He really has a good arm in right field and can play all three (positions).”

Dean and his wife are expecting a baby in December and the gender is being kept a secret to be shared among close friends and family. However, the 28-year-old did indicate that when he found out the gender on June 20, it made him, “really, really, really happy,” so take that as you may.

“I was very fortunate enough that the Giants got to pick me up,” Dean said. “I got put on waivers during spring training and it’s not something that you want to go through. But at the same time, I still got a job, which I’m happy about, and this is a time where I need to reflect and find ways to get better and kind of prove myself again.”