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Patrick flourishing in Fort Wayne06/22/2010 9:05 PM ET
By Matthew Lindner / Special to MLB.com
FORT WAYNE, Ind. -- His big league career spanned all of 38 games over two seasons. In that time, however, Fort Wayne TinCaps pitching coach Bronswell Patrick managed to etch his name in the record books not once but twice.
"It was an interesting career," Patrick said.
On Aug. 1, 1998, while pitching for Milwaukee, Patrick stepped to the plate in the fifth inning against Arizona's Felix Rodriguez, destined to knock some dust off the Brewers' history books. When he belted one of Rodriguez's offerings over the County Stadium outfield wall, it made him the first pitcher in nearly 40 years to homer for the club.
But that's not the thing that comes to mind most often when people hear Patrick's name. Just one month after his own notable home run, he found himself on the mound at Wrigley Field, smack dab in the middle of the home run chase between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. Sosa stepped to the plate, one long ball from tying Roger Maris' mark of 61, and Patrick was about to join the ranks of baseball's most notable trivia answers.
"I left a pitch out over the plate and Sammy was hot. He was hot back then," Patrick recalled. "He ended up hitting it out of the ballpark."
It's a moment that changed his life forever.
"I got to my hotel that night in Cincinnati and my phone was ringing off the hook with reporters asking me what the pitch was," he said.
To this day, Patrick said, people ask him about that game and the home run chase.
"Not as much now as they did in the past. It's kind of dying down now as far as people asking me," he said.
Patrick's career has taken a number of twists and turns since then. He once famously told the Calgary Sun that he was going to pitch until someone physically took the uniform off of him. Following two seasons in the big leagues with the Brewers and Giants, Patrick continued to pitch until finally hanging it up in 2005.
That has meant a lot of time on the road and a lot of different uniforms. He's pitched in four countries for more than a dozen teams. He's been a member of the Mexico City Red Devils, Tacoma Rainiers and Louisville Redbirds. He's pitched in Canada and China, in unbearable heat and in climate controlled domes.
Being a baseball journeyman also has meant spending a lot of time away from his family. Patrick is a divorced father of three who lives in Phoenix during the offseason. While he said it's not easy being away from his girlfriend and kids for more than half the year, he knows he's lucky to have them behind him all the way.
"[My girlfriend] has been great about the whole traveling thing. She's gotten used to me being away from home," he says. "My kids are able to come out during the summertime when they're not in school. [It's great] having my son out there and having him be around the game of baseball."
Now Patrick's career has taken him full circle, back to a league in which he paid his dues as a player so many summers ago. He first came to the Midwest League in 1989 as an Oakland Athletics prospect pitching for the Madison Muskies. A lot has changed in the league since then.
Still, he said he gets a nostalgic feeling when he returns to places like Beloit, Burlington and Clinton, which have remained largely unchanged.
"I love going back around, seeing some of the ballparks and being back in the cities I played in, being able to see the difference in the ballparks and things like that," he said.
In fact, to hear him tell it, there's no place he'd rather be than in a ballpark in eastern Indiana, sporting the green baseball cap that features a snarling apple and working with young pitchers who want to live out their dreams the same way he did.
"I love working with these kids and having a good time with them," he said. "It's just been a great experience for me and I just want to keep it rolling."
And as far as when he's going to give up his traveling ways, Patrick said, "Just like when I was playing, I told them, 'I'm gonna keep this uniform on as long as I can.'"