The second installment in my “Indy Ball Friday’s” and it features a name that is very well known to many Red Sox fans. Rafael Palmeiro, at age 53, was back in professional baseball hitting moon shots. Enjoy.
During the summer of 2018 Rafael Palmeiro made his return to professional baseball. He played along side his son, Patrick, for the Cleburne Railroaders, located about a hour south of the Dallas area.
Palmeiro is one of only five players in major league history to collect 3,000 hits and smash 500 home runs. One of only five freaking players! Albert Pujols just became the latest member to join that club.
Yet even then Palmeiro was only an All-Star four times. His highest MVP finish came in 1999 when he finished fifth, playing for Texas, losing the award to his own teammate Pudge Rodriguez.
Now sometimes when teams bring in an older living legend like this it’s only for the ceremony. To bring fans out for a game, but not Palmeiro. He was with the Railroaders for the entire season. Played in only 31 games, but his legs just simply gave out on him is what I was told. He’d hit rockets off the fence but only make it to first base. Though everything above the waist was still as good as ever.
In those 31 games he batted .301, had an OPS of .919, with six home runs, 21 RBI and walked 20 times compared to whiffing just 25 times. You could still see at 53 years young he was one of the best to play.
Luckily I was able to meet him and grab him for an interview for my pre game show, and he was an incredibly nice guy. I was told ahead of time however not to ask any steroid questions since we all know what happened to him in front of congress.
Rather off-record I asked him what it was like to face Pedro Martinez in his prime and the answer was incredible, he rattled off Pedro’s scouting report like he had just faced him yesterday. He said Pedro was tough, because he wasn’t afraid to challenge Palmeiro, a lefty, inside because he knew how deep right field is at Fenway. That Palmeiro could crush a pitch and it would simply die in the spacious grass in right field. And how Pedro constantly challenged you with his fastball because he knew it was a good one and was confident.
There was just nobody better than prime Pedro Martinez. Which by the way Palmeiro hit .206 with 8 K’s in 34 at bats against Martinez.
Also a shoutout to Brad Allred, the broadcaster for Cleburne who made that call and got to go viral. He is one of my good friends in my league, a barrel of laughs and a lot of fun to be around whenever Sioux City and Cleburne get together. Though his views on fast food burgers are skewed. He believes Whataburger, while being a Texas staple, is the granddaddy of all burgers. Folks lemme just tell you that if you ever find yourself in Texas needing a bit to eat, while Whataburger is fine, you can do better.
Also shout out to his color guy at the time Michael Dixon, another good friend and trust me when I say that you will not find a bigger Dallas Stars fan.
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Connor Ryan (@connoryan68)