Celebrate St. Patrick's Day with 8 of the most interesting Pats in baseball history
Top o' the morning to you! Did you know that there are 252 former MLB and Negro League players in the Baseball Hall of Fame and none of them are named Patrick? That's a fitting fact to start off your St. Patrick's Day.
St. Patrick's Day is a holiday typically reserved for listening to Dropkick Murphys and eating green eggs and ham, or conning a leprechaun into showing you his pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. But we'd rather spend it reliving the careers of some of the most interesting Patricks in professional baseball history.
Borders played for nine teams over the course of his 17-year career, but he's largely remembered as the starting catcher for the Blue Jays teams that won back-to-back World Series in the early 1990s. Well, that or his incredible mullet-mustache combo:
Nothing screams "baseball player from the '90s" louder than rocking that mullet with that mustache while winning a World Series MVP for the Blue Jays.
Affectionately known as "Pat the Bat," Burrell was the No. 1 overall selection in the 1998 MLB Draft. He made his MLB debut less than two years later and became an integral part of the Phillies lineup for the next decade. One tall tale that preceded Burrell's MLB debut suggests that he once clubbed two homers in a college game, then caught a fastball with his bare hand and spiked it when the opposing pitcher tried to bean him in his next at-bat. With that kind of origin story, Burrell could never really live up to the hype, but he did mash a serviceable 292 career MLB homers and helped the Phillies win the 2008 World Series with a clutch double in Game 5 that became the winning run:
One of the best pitching staffs in MLB history was the 1971 Orioles group that featured four 20-game winners, including Dobson. Dobson made the All-Star team the following season despite leading the AL in losses. He finished his 11-year MLB career with a 3.54 ERA, and has the distinction of being the first guy in history to throw a no-hitter in a U.S.-Japan exhibition game when he blanked the Yomiuri Giants in November of '71. Dobson was also the Orioles' starter in the first night game in World Series history when he took the hill against the Pirates in Game 4 of the '71 Fall Classic:
Gillick is the only Patrick who has been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame (voted in by the Veterans Committee in 2010). He pitched for the University of South Carolina team that won the 1958 College World Series and had a brief run in the Minors with the O's before pivoting and starting a career in the front office.
He joined the Colt .45's as a scout before they became the Astros and later served as general manager for the World Series champion Blue Jays teams that Borders caught for. Gillick later joined the Phillies front office as GM and helped engineer another World Series champ in 2008.
In 1941, a 23-year-old Mullin appeared in 54 games for the Tigers, hitting .345 with five homers and 23 RBIs. He sacrificed the next four years of his prime to serve in World War II, but returned to the Tigers for eight seasons after the war (and the team's '45 World Series victory). Second from the left in the above photo, Mullin finished his career with two All-Star appearances, 87 career homers and a .271 lifetime average.
WOW...my 2010 & 2013 Topps cards are pretty similar...cracks me up that I just noticed this. pic.twitter.com/8Tg3BFMe1S— Pat Neshek (@PatNeshek) November 13, 2013
Neshek is currently prepping for the 2016 season at Astros Spring Training in Kissimmee, Fla. The 35-year-old reliever was drafted by the Twins and spent time with the Padres, Athletics and Cardinals before signing with Houston ahead of last season.
One of the most interesting things about Neshek is his unorthodox throwing motion. When he was in high school, a line drive hit him in his throwing arm, and he's been throwing side-arm ever since. Also, the guy's a baseball nerd among baseball nerds. He runs his own website dedicated to autograph collecting and plays the online baseball simulation game Out of the Park Baseball.
You probably haven't heard of Purtell because he was a professional baseball player before anyone even really knew what professional baseball was. According to the Society for American Baseball Research, Purtell was instrumental in organizing the first pro team in Binghamton, N.Y. in 1886, and once rode a horse 26 miles to catch up to his team to help them win. He missed the train to the game due to his actual job, but didn't want his absence to cost his squad the winning purse. Now that's dedication to the game.
Venditte's name likely sounds familiar because he's MLB's only ambidextrous pitcher (for now, at least). His rare gift, his Cthulhu glove and the official rule they inspired work together to create one of baseball's most interesting story lines. After appearing in 26 games for the 2015 A's, Venditte took his talents to the six when he was claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays. Fellow Jays reliever Aaron Loup is dealing with some forearm tightness, which might open a slot for Venditte and both of his arms to fill for the forthcoming season.
Some other notable baseball Pats who just missed the cut: 1973 All-Star outfielder Pat Kelly, current D-backs pitcher Patrick Corbin, Blue Jays broadcaster Pat Tabler and three-time All-Star Pat Hentgen.
Who's your favorite baseball Pat?