Random Athlete Of The Day- Ben Petrick
Ex-Catcher Ben Petrick is from Salem, Oregon; the Kalapuyans Native Americans refer to this land as Chemeketa, but the meaning of Chemeketa would probably need a separate article. Regardless, Petrick graduated from Glencoe High School, and despite being recruited for football and baseball, Petrick was selected by the Rockies in the 2nd round of the 1995 Draft.
After just one season in the minors, Petrick became a highly touted prospect. Pre-1997 he was ranked #63 overall by Baseball America, and went on to hit 15 homeruns and steal 30 bags. Pre-1998 Petrick moved up 9 spots and hit over .300 with solid power in A+.
In 1999 Petrick was a September call-up, and played in 19 games, hitting four homers, three doubles, with a .323 BA in 62 AB’s. Pre-2000 Petrick gained a lot of hype and was ranked the 35th overall prospect. In 2000, age 23, Petrick hit .322 with a .401 OBP in his 146 at-bats. The catcher was meant to be the missing piece for the Rockies as their third best hitter behind Todd Helton and Larry Walker. Unfortunately, Petrick was battling Parkinson’s disease, which he was diagnosed with after the 1999 season. It was only announced that he was dealing with the disease in 2004.
After his promising sample size displayed the season earlier, in 2001 Petrick only batted .238. And the next season was worse with a .211 average. In 2003 the Rockies traded him to the Detroit Tigers for Adam Bernero (career had a 5.91 ERA). The change in scenery didn’t change Petrick’s production as he hit .225.
In 2004, Petrick announced his retirement as the disease was too much for any professional baseball player to handle. The Ex-Rockie spoke at many awareness fundraisers and went on to coach baseball and football at his old high school. Five years later Petrick had a Deep Brain Stimulation surgery, and barely escaped death from a post-brain infection. The next year he had another surgery and successfully survived that as well.
Despite all of his setbacks and obstacles, with the help of Scott Brown and Clint Hurdle, Petrick wrote an inspirational book compiled of stories from his life called “40,000 to One” (http://www.benpetrick.com/about-the-book)