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Everybody knows about Pat Neshek’s unique pitching delivery.
After being hit in the arm with a pitch in high school, he began to throw sidearm as a way to deal with pain in his arm. When his arm healed, he wasn’t able to throw the ball overhand, thus his unique style.
The violent motion of his delivery could be the explanation for the torn UCL in his pitching arm that forced him to have season-ending Tommy John surgery, causing him to miss the entire 2009 season. Neshek was one of the better relievers for the Minnesota Twins before the injury, finding himself on the Fan All-Star Game ballot in 2007.
Neshek was claimed off waivers by the San Diego Padres in August 2011 before signing a minor league contract with the Baltimore Orioles the following January but was optioned to AAA Norfolk. He was traded to Oakland on August 3 just in time for their playoff push, and posted a 1.37 ERA in 24 appearances for the A’s.
Amidst all the excitement of playing in the majors again, Pat’s wife, Stephanee, was nearing her due date with the couple’s first child. Pat was with Stephanee in Florida welcoming their son, Gehrig John Neshek, into the world while his teammates celebrated an AL West Championship in Oakland.
But celebration turned into tragedy 23 hours later when Gehrig suddenly passed away in his mother’s arms.
I got to interview Pat while he was with the Twins in 2008. There are only two things that matter to him: family and baseball. You can see which one comes first when you find out where he was while Oakland completed a 13-game comeback for the division title. Besides playing the game, Neshek is an avid collector of game memorabilia and honored one of the game’s greatest players, Lou Gehrig, by naming his son after him.
While adding an authentic and well-deserved World Series ring to his collection in no way accounts for the loss of a child, I can only imagine the ovation that Pat receives when he enters a game against Detroit this week will be comparable to the greeting Gehrig received from the angels as he approached the gates of Heaven.