Rick Ankiel returned to the mound and struck out the only batter he faced
Yes, you read that headline correctly. Rick Ankiel returned to a baseball mound on Wednesday night. No, unfortunately it wasn't in the big leagues, it was at the Bluegrass World Series in Louisville -- a small tournament featuring a pretty great list of former MLBers like Chipper Jones, Ben Sheets, J.D. Drew and Corky Miller.
Ankiel apparently went 2-for-4 with four RBIs and faced one batter. He struck him out with some high cheese:
Coach Johnny Bench came out and grabbed him -- resulting in a standing ovation from the crowd.
Rick Ankiel just pitched for the Louisville Stars, and just struck out the only batter he faced.— Justin Sayers (@_JustinSayers) August 2, 2018
Manager Johnny Bench came out and grabbed him. Crowd gave him a standing ovation, and he tipped his cap.
Pretty, pretty cool.
You probably remember, but Ankiel exploded onto the Major League scene in the early 2000s as a phenomenal fireballing lefty for the Cardinals. He suffered from the yips and anxiety and then reinvented himself as a full-time center fielder with a rocket arm.
Although it's an exhibition game some 14 years after Ankiel's last professional appearance as a pitcher, it's still pretty cool to see him toeing the rubber again.