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Former White Sox outfielder confirmed as U.S. ambassador to New Zealand

Mark Gilbert -- a former Major League outfielder -- is set to become the first former MLB player to be a credentialed United States ambassador.

In 1985, Gilbert appeared in seven games for Tony La Russa's White Sox, going 6-for-22 with four walks and three runs batted in.

"Sure, I remember him," La Russa told The Associated Press [in October]. "I was always taken with his intelligence and how he was committed to what we were trying to teach -- to become a teammate, a competitor and to pursue excellence as a professional."

The following season, Gilbert earned a starting spot in Boca Raton, Fla. ... as sales manager at Drexel Burnham Lambert investment firm. Stints with Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers left him in positon to enter the world of politics.

Gilbert served as the deputy national finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee before President Barack Obama appointed him to be the U.S. ambassador to New Zealand. The U.S. Senate confirmed Gilbert with voice vote on Friday.

In a voice vote late Friday afternoon, the U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed Gilbert, 58, to be the U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand. A resident of West Palm Beach, Fla., Gilbert will follow in the footsteps of former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun, who was the United States' top diplomat to Auckland from 1999 until 2001.