Monday, July 20, 2009

MLB’s All-Catholic Team: Where Mystique May Come From a Higher Power

There has always been a connection between religion and sports, and Major League Baseball has certainly not been the exception to the rule.

Shawn Green was once wooed by the Yankees in order to attract a wide range of Jewish New Yorkers into Yankee Stadium.

Sandy Koufax once missed an expected World Series start to participate in a Jewish holiday, leaving teammate Don Drysdale to be slaughtered on short rest.

The Pope has spoken multiple times in famous sports venues, which of course included “The House that Ruth Built” in the Bronx.

Countless pitchers are seen tucking cross necklaces into their jerseys before toeing the rubber, or simply squatting for a quick prayer behind the mound.

This phenomenon got me thinking of the best Catholic names in baseball history—especially considering the names New York has employed in the last 12 months alone.

Feel free to offer additions and omissions, and I hope you enjoy the list.

For your viewing pleasure, here is the MLB All-Catholic lineup:

C - Jesus Montero:

Signed at just 16 years old by the Yankees, Montero recently played in the Futures Game for the second straight season.

He has a .328 AVG, 14 HR, 58 RBI, and .386 OBP in 2009 at a combination of Single-A and Double-A—certainly earning him that honor.

1B - Abel Lizotte:

Abel had a very short career with the 1896 Pittsburgh Pirates at 1B. He played in just seven games, "able" to hit just .103 in 29 total at bats.

You may be wondering why his career was so abrupt--especially considering the potential he flashed as a young boy.

Unfortunately for Abel, his envious brother Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giants made sure his major league career was nothing more than a cup of tea.

Things have worked out well for Cain, as he is currently a budding superstar with an 11-2 record and 2.32 ERA in 2009.

2B - Angel Berroa:

A former Rookie of the Year in 2003, Berroa has bounced around the majors since--recently signing with the Mets after an abysmal effort in the Bronx.

In 2009, Berroa is hitting just .120 with a .154 OBP in 24 games played with the Mets and Yankees.

SS - Nate Samson:

Samson is a 21 year old Chicago Cubs farmhand currently playing in Double-A playing for the Tennessee Smokies.

He is currently hitting .254 with 0 HR, 28 RBI, and 37 R in 74 combined minor league games at SS in 2009.

It appears as though Samson’s girlfriend Delilah may have given him an untimely haircut after high school, as he has been unable to muster the power necessary to hit a home run.

3B - Matt Moses:

Moses is a 24 year old Minnesota farmhand, originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2003 draft.

He is currently hitting .224 with 6 HR and 40 RBI at Double-A New Britain in the Eastern League. He has split time between the OF and 3B during his many years in the minor leagues.

OF - Justin Christian:
Christian was a temporary call-up for the 2008 Yankees. He played OF and was a pinch-runner extraordinaire (before the permanent arrival of Brett Gardner cast him aside).

In 24 games during that season, Christian batted .250 with 6 RBI, as well as collecting 7 stolen bases in 8 attempts.

OF - Dave Pope:

Pope was an outfielder from 1952-1956 in the American League. He split his five ML seasons between the Baltimore Orioles and Cleveland Indians.

He proved to be a solid complimentary player, as he hit .265 with 12 HR and 73 RBI in 230 career games.

OF - St. Louis Cardinals:
With Hall of Fame outfielders like Stan Musial and Lou Brock in their history, the Cardinals seemed like the perfect candidate to fill out the All-Catholic OF.

This illustrious and well-respected major league franchise was founded in 1882 as the St. Louis Brown Stockings.

They have since won 10 World Series and 17 National League pennants, and are currently in first place in the NL Central at 51-43.

P - Eddie Priest:

Priest was originally drafted in the 9th round of the 1994 draft out of Southern Union Junior College.

He broke in briefly with the Cincinnati Reds in 1998, and compiled a 10.50 ERA in 6 innings pitched (2 games).

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