A lot of you may not know who Nick Bierbrodt is. Many of you probably wouldn't care...unless you know what he went through.
Bierbrodt was born May 16, 1978 in Tarzana, California. He was talented as a pitcher. Talented enough for the Arizona Diamondbacks to select him with their 30th pick in the 1996 amateur draft. Bierbrodt would then spend five years in the D-Backs minor league system.
Bierbrodt made his major league debut on June 7, 2001. He pitched two innings and gave up five hits and six earned runs in a game that the Diamondbacks eventually won 13-9.
Bierbrodt won his first game in his next start, a 13-3 win over the Chicago Cubs. He finished his tenure with Arizona with a 2-2 record and an 8.22 ERA. On July 25, 2001, Bierbrodt was traded, along with Jason Conti, to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for Mike DiFelice and Albie Lopez.
In Bierbrodt's Tampa Bay tenure in 2001, he went 3-4 with a 4.55 ERA...for a 2001 record of 5-6 and a 5.55 ERA.
His career came to a halt when Bierbrodt, who was 24, missed the entire 2002 season after he was shot three times. Once in his chest, and twice in his non-pitching arm. He was placed in critical condition. Police called the shooting a random act of violence.
Bierbrodt was able to rehab and get back on a major league mound by 2003. Despite his recovery, Bierbrodt went 0-2 with a 9.68 ERA with Tampa Bay in 2003. He was traded to the Cleveland Indians, and appeared in five games for Cleveland, going 0-0 with a 6.75 ERA.
In 2004, his last season in the majors, he was signed as a free agent by the Texas Rangers, appearing in four games, and going 1-1. The Rangers released him on July 29, 2004. He then bounced around spring training invites with the Reds and Red Sox, among others.
Bierbrodt played for the Brother Elephants of the Chinese League in 2007, before returning to the United States in 2008 where he joined the Long Beach Armada of the Golden Baseball League. Now, in 2009, Bierbrodt is currently a free agent.
Bierbrodt isn't quite the success story of Josh Hamilton, but it certainly is close. Hamilton went from being a drug addict to a star...Bierbrodt is a virtual unkown.
I found out about him by playing EA Sports MVP Baseball 2005. I signed Bierbrodt as a free agent during the game's Dynasty Mode, and he actually became the closer for my team. To find out more about him, I punched his name into Google and found out about his story.
That was three years ago. I really haven't told anyone about Bierbrodt's story, and no one seems to know about it. The GM of the 2002 Tampa Bay Devil Rays team said "It's just incredible how fast things can change...here's a young man that the sky was the limit..."
Indeed it was. But now Bierbrodt is known as just another former major leaguer who couldn't handle it in the big leagues.
But he's not that to me. To me, he's a great guy who was given a bad set of circumstances in his life.