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Saturday, January 07, 2012

ESPN’s OTL: Strength from Weakness (Ben Petrick profile)

Who could have known? Who could have known that a player some considered a potential Hall of Fame catcher [...] would have his future stolen from him by an incurable disease that rarely afflicts people as young as 22?

How good was Petrick? Go back and look at his stats. In those 240 games for the Rockies and Tigers, he hit .257 with 27 home runs and 94 RBIs while trying to control the symptoms of Parkinson’s, which include tremors, rigidity and slow movements. He was not only tough enough to be a catcher, the most demanding position on the field, but also athletic enough to play centerfield when he wasn’t behind the plate.

“Looking back, I am amazed at what he accomplished,” says Rockies first baseman Todd Helton, who was Colorado’s first pick in the 1995 draft, the year Petrick was taken in the second round. “It’s hard enough performing at the highest level of this game, which he did. On top of that, he had to fight off a disease that robbed him of his physical ability. And on top of that, he had to play under the tremendous pressure of hiding the effects of that disease.”

Helton pauses. “You know what, though?” he says. “I’m more impressed by what he’s done with his life since.”

Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: January 07, 2012 at 11:03 PM | 11 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: rockies, tigers

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   1. Robinson Cano Plate Like Home Posted: January 08, 2012 at 12:28 AM (#4031496)
Amazing story--Petrick was fighting Parkinson's--and hiding it--his entire MLB career.
   2. Jim (jimmuscomp) Posted: January 08, 2012 at 12:41 AM (#4031501)
That's amazing.
   3. MM1f Posted: January 08, 2012 at 12:44 AM (#4031503)
Who could have known that a player some considered a potential Hall of Fame catcher [...] would have his future stolen from him by an incurable disease that rarely afflicts people as young as 22?


Ok, he was a very promising prospect but... WHAT THE WHAT!?!?
Hall of Famer? Chill out a lil there ESPN. They really couldn't have just said "future All-Star"? They had to throw silly HoF hyperbole out there?
   4. shoewizard Posted: January 08, 2012 at 12:53 AM (#4031506)

Ok, he was a very promising prospect but... WHAT THE WHAT!?!?
Hall of Famer? Chill out a lil there ESPN. They really couldn't have just said "future All-Star"? They had to throw silly HoF hyperbole out there?


Obviously you never saw Bill James projections for his rookie year back in the day. ;)

Seriously, he had him hitting like .300/30/100 his rookie season.
   5. Eric P. Posted: January 08, 2012 at 01:28 AM (#4031514)
Looking at Petrick's B-Ref page was a great reminder of just how insane 2000 Coors Field was. He hit .322/.401/.466, a line that belongs right in the middle of Joe Mauer's peak. Petrick's OPS+? 100.
   6. michaelplank has knowledgeable eyes Posted: January 08, 2012 at 09:37 AM (#4031551)
Ok, he was a very promising prospect but... WHAT THE WHAT!?!?
Hall of Famer? Chill out a lil there ESPN. They really couldn't have just said "future All-Star"? They had to throw silly HoF hyperbole out there?


Yeah, I went big on Petrick in my APBA keeper league, but figured him for possible legit future All Star + beneficiary of unadjusted Coors Field stats. It's a long way from there to "potential Hall of Famer," unless you want to roll the dice and say that about any 22 year old in MLB. Michael Barrett came up about the same time, and the biggest difference between him and Petrick as prospects was Coors Field.
   7. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: January 08, 2012 at 01:13 PM (#4031597)
His immediate problem was that the lifestyle of baseball does not lend itself to the recommended regimen of prescription drugs. To control the Parkinson's symptoms, he began taking Requip, a drug that tricks the brain by mimicking dopamine. But long hours at the ballpark, day and night games, time zone changes and buses and planes made any sort of routine impossible. Plus, the Requip made him sleepy. "So there I was, popping pills like sunflower seeds, trying to stay awake as we go over the scouting reports of the other team, trying to pretend nothing was wrong," Petrick says. He wasn't so much deceiving his teammates as he was deceiving himself.



I wonder if this would have shown up if they were doing the current steroid testing program then, a la Ryan Braun?

Ok, he was a very promising prospect but... WHAT THE WHAT!?!?
Hall of Famer? Chill out a lil there ESPN. They really couldn't have just said "future All-Star"? They had to throw silly HoF hyperbole out there?


I think that being hung up on All-Star versus HoF in this context is missing the entire point. This isn't a hardcore baseball story, it's a human story.
   8. Walt Davis Posted: January 08, 2012 at 03:09 PM (#4031665)
I wonder if this would have shown up if they were doing the current steroid testing program then, a la Ryan Braun?

Well I'm guessing the pills he was popping to stay awake would have eventually led to a 25-game suspension.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. :-)

A brief web search turns up that Petrick once had 4 RBI in a game with no hits -- a god of small ball!
   9. MM1f Posted: January 08, 2012 at 03:32 PM (#4031683)
I think that being hung up on All-Star versus HoF in this context is missing the entire point. This isn't a hardcore baseball story, it's a human story.


Well, duh. But it cheapens the story when the writer throws out silly statements like "Hall of Famer." The Petrick story, which I am familiar with, is a good story. It doesn't need to dumb lines like that in there.
   10. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: January 08, 2012 at 04:01 PM (#4031702)
To be fair, before he was a Parkinson's case, the guy did hit .238/.345/.470 as a 21 year old, good defensive catcher in the Eastern League. That's pretty damn impressive.
   11. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: January 08, 2012 at 11:36 PM (#4031930)
HOF: I considered a different excerpt / omitting that bit - but figured people would focus on the human interest aspect. Silly me...

Anyway, fwiw, I liked him quite a bit more than Barrett as a prospect (for reasons other than park factors) - more power, more speed, more defense (less ability to make contact, which I underrated at the time). Heck, they nearly had the same career OPS+ (very different number of PA, mind you) despite Petrick having Parkinson's.

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