Who's your team? Loretta's answer one-of-a-kind

Infielder lone MLB player in history to play for all 4 remaining playoff squads

October 11th, 2018

Mark Loretta found out about his, ahem, historic place in this year's League Championship Series the same way everyone else did -- on Twitter.

And at first, it was hard for him to believe it.

"My wife's, like, 'You think that's right?'" Loretta said.

Turns out, it was. Loretta, one of more than 10,000 players to ever wear a Major League uniform, is the only one who has played for all four teams that are still alive in the postseason this year.

That's right, friends. Loretta, in a 15-year career, was a Brewer, an Astro, a Dodger and a Red Sox. No other player, living or otherwise, holds such a distinction.

Once this obscure stat started circulating around the social media sphere on Wednesday, Loretta's phone began buzzing. Text messages trickled in, many from people he hadn't spoken to in a while.

Curious about the stat, and anxious to find out if it was real, Loretta sent a message to his friend Matt Vasgersian, a studio host at MLB Network and the play-by-play announcer for ESPN Sunday Night Baseball.

"I said, 'Matty, this seems inaccurate,'" Loretta recalled. "'Can you have your guys check on it?' An hour later, he texted back, 'Verified.'"

Players who have long Major League careers tend to have multiple teams listed on the backs of their baseball cards by the time they retire, so Loretta wasn't all that shocked that he happened to have played for all four teams involved in the LCS.

He's just surprised that he's the only one.

"Especially in this day and age," Loretta said. "It's not like these teams are expansion teams."

Loretta was originally a Brewers Draft pick, selected in the seventh round in 1993. He played for Milwaukee from 1995-2002, before joining the Astros mid-season. He played for the Padres from '03-05, the Red Sox in '06, returned to Houston for the '07-08 seasons and ended his career with the Dodgers in '09.

Given that nearly a decade has passed since was an active player, Loretta was amused that he ended up as a trivia question in the middle of October. Now a special assistant in the Padres' front office, Loretta, who played in two postseasons -- with the Padres in 2005 and the Dodgers in '09 -- admitted this has been a fun couple of days.

"I played for five teams, and four out of five are in the playoffs," he said. "It's cool. I've heard from people that I don't keep in regular contact with, and I saw it on Twitter, which is fun."

Unprompted, Loretta rattled off at least one fond memory he had playing for each playoff team. Milwaukee, his first organization, was like "your first love," he said. A lot of the support staff when he played there -- trainers, clubhouse workers, the traveling secretary, broadcaster Bob Uecker -- are still with them. He's good friends with their manager, Craig Counsell, and their bench coach, Pat Murphy. So yes, he has perhaps the softest spot for the Brewers.

While with the Astros, Loretta witnessed Hall of Famer Craig Biggio's 3,000th hit in 2007 and formed a bond with a veteran Houston contigent that named itself the Five Wise Men. Loretta, Darin Erstad, Geoff Blum, Jose Cruz Jr. and Brad Ausmus were, Loretta described, a band of brothers "not often needed, but always ready."

In Boston, Loretta experienced one of his favorite personal accomplishments -- he hit a walk-off homer on Patriots' Day, a celebratory holiday that starts with the Boston Marathon and continues with a late-morning first pitch at Fenway Park.

"I was in Boston only one year, but in terms of baseball, it was probably my favorite," Loretta said. "The atmosphere at Fenway Park -- every game was like a playoff game."

And finally, Loretta reflected on ending his career with the Dodgers, the team he rooted for as a kid growing up in southern California.

"Bill Russell, Ron Cey, Davey Lopes were a big deal to watch," Loretta said. "So it was kind of fun to come full circle and play for them."

As a baseball executive, Loretta's rooting interests these days rest solely with San Diego, and he will be watching the postseason through a somewhat neutral lens. But he suspects last year's World Series participants, the Astros and Dodgers, may make it there again.

He's not ruling out the possibility of a surprise, though.

"You never know in baseball," Loretta said. "But I don't expect two sweeps."