Catching Singley: How the Reds bullpen catcher landed his job from Instagram

Joe Singley has overcome four surgeries, never playing in an NCAA game, and the death of his father. Then, he got his shot.
Joe Singley
Posted at 3:28 PM, Mar 29, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-29 15:45:58-04

CINCINNATI — The Road to The Show is never a straight path. Reds bullpen catcher Joe Singley is a prime example of the twists and turns it can take.

Seven years ago, Singley was a stud high school catcher in Delaware, getting ready to start his college career at Tulane. He was ready to live out his dream — until the injury bug began.

“Tore my labrum, separated my A/C joint … hairline fracture in my collarbone … couldn’t throw at all,” Singley said.

For many reasons, Singley decided to transfer to a junior college near home. In his first month, he had shoulder surgery. Not too long after, he needed surgery again.
“That put me out the whole next year,” Singley said.

Despite all that, without playing a single inning of college baseball, NCAA juggernaut Coastal Carolina gave Singley a call.

“They took a chance on me, which ended up being one of the biggest blessings of my life,” Singley said.

Two months into his time at Coastal, Singley went under the knife two more times. This time, for his collarbone.

“The whole time through this process, I kept telling everyone, delusional faith,” Singley said. “Never lost sight, always knew it was going to work out no matter what. I’m rehabbing through it, ready to go, ready to rock.”

Singley was ready to rock until his world was rocked. His father, also named Joe, was diagnosed with cancer.

“When I was just healthy and going to go back to Coastal, the doctor pulled me in and told me that he can die at any moment,” Singley said. “(My dad) was my super hero…words do it no justice, he was my whole life.”

Singley took a semester off from school, staying by his father’s bedside.

“If I woke up the next day at 11 a.m. from the 9-11 a.m. little nap I got and he was still there, it was just such a relief,” Singley said.

Joe Anthony Singley passed away Oct. 23, 2019.

“The pain didn’t really hit you until later on. Until you go to make that phone call, until you’re at dinner, until you’re at Christmas and there is just that huge hole there,” Singley said.

Being the ball player he is, Singley turned back to the game. Finally healthy, he was ready to catch in a college baseball game.

But Singley learned he was academically ineligible.

A 21-year-old kid that could not catch a break, his “delusional faith” never wavered. He wasn't able to step on the field for a game, but he could still help the team. Singley’s coach at Coastal Carolina recommended he start an Instagram to share his elite knowledge of catching.

“I was kind of bitter about it, but I figured I’ll do it. I didn’t know how the whole Instagram thing would be perceived,” Singley said.

The Instagram thing was perceived pretty well. Over 10,000 people follow “Catching Singley.” The most important followers: Reds catching coach J.R. House and starting catcher Tyler Stephenson.

“Catching coaches and people who understand catching, it’s hard to come by,” Stephenson said. “With him being so close, I loved what he was posting on the internet.”

Stephenson said he messaged Singley when the team was in Philadelphia (where Singley is from) leaving tickets for him to come to a game.

“I’m staring over the bullpen, watching Tyler catch, and JR (House) is sitting there looking up at me,” Singley said. “On the brink of asking why he was looking at me in kind of a Philly way, he asked if I was Joe, and I said 'yes.'”

House, the Reds catching coach, said he “wanted to see kind of how he watched.”

“We just want to find those types of people that this is what they love to do. It’s Friday night, it’s 11 o’clock, and they are watching videos of catchers,” House said.

The Reds found that type of person. House says Singley is more than just a bullpen catcher, he's a coach.

“The most important part of Joe is that our players love him — they love him,” House said.

“Everyone accepts him for who he is,” Stephenson said.

They accept and support. Singley started a non-profit to help out families who have a loved one battling cancer. Many of the Reds stars have sported "Singley Strong" shirts to support the effort.

Singley Strong Shirts

“I think it really is a miracle landing here,” Singley said.

From down in the count to never backing down, Singley is helping in the Reds clubhouse and the lives for countless families. When asked what he thinks his dad would think about all of his success, his answer is simple.

“I really don’t know, I hope he’d be proud,” Singley said.

Proud of a dream fulfilled, based on delusional faith.