Posts Tagged ‘Pat Ahearne’

Who’s Still Playing?

January 16, 2008

With the 15th anniversary season of the Trenton Thunder a little less than three months away from getting underway, it might interest you to know that three players from that inaugural team are still playing.  Two of them you’ll know, but one might surprise you.

Tony Clark was the second overall pick by the Detroit Tigers in 1990.  He made it to Trenton during the 1994 season, and played 107 games for the Thunder before being called up to Triple-A Toledo during the first week of August.

He hit .279 with 21 home runs and 86 RBI, and was the first star player in the history of the franchise.  As such, his number 33 has been retired at Waterfront Park.

He made his only All-Star team in 2001 with Detroit.

He went on to play seven seasons for the Tigers, and one season each for the Red Sox, Mets and Yankees before spending the last three years as an Arizona Diamondback.  He’s a career .265 hitter at the big league level, complete with 244 home runs and 789 RBI.

Trever Miller was selected 41st overall by the Tigers in 1991, and reached Trenton in his fourth season of professional baseball. 

The southpaw went 7-16 with a 4.39 ERA in 26 starts, including six complete games for a team that went 55-85 on the year.

He spent six seasons in the Tigers organization, making his Major League debut with Detroit in 1996.  Miller has bounced around quite a bit since then, pitching in the Astros, Phillies, Dodgers, Red Sox, Reds, Blue Jays and Devil Rays organizations.

He reached the big leagues with all but the Reds and the Red Sox.  He has a career Major League record of 12-14 with a 4.46 ERA.

Pat Ahearne / Photo by Mike Ashmore (2007)

The name that might surprise you is Pat Ahearne.  Ahearne was the Tigers seventh round selection in 1992, and reached Double-A in just his third professional season.

The righty went 7-5 with a 3.98 ERA in 30 games for Trenton, 13 of those being starts.

He would make his Major League debut the following season, appearing in the only four big league games of his career for the Tigers.  Ahearne posted a record of 0-2 with an 11.70 ERA.

Since then, Ahearne has been in the Mets, Dodgers, Mariners and Marlins organizations, as well as re-joining the Tigers farm system from 2002 to 2004.

He hasn’t pitched in the affiliated minors since 2004, and has spent all or parts of seven seasons in independent baseball, primarily with the Bridgeport Bluefish and Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League.

It was during that time that Ahearne and I talked about the inaugural season in Thunder history…

“Well, that was pretty interesting, because it was obviously their first season. And our opener was something like the 13th of April, and we went up there on the 7th, drove down to the field, and they had the grandstands built and then dirt. They had no field, no outfield fences, no lights. And so in the span of about six days, they laid out a field, put up the outfield fences and rose the light standards. So what ended up happening was that you felt like you were playing baseball in the middle of a construction site at times. For example, in the bathrooms, the toilets didn’t have the little separators in them, so we went out underneath and found a piece of plywood and some cinderblocks and put them there and made a little makeshift wall so people didn’t have to watch you while you were doing your business. We had so many times where it drained and chunks of sod would just float away or our second baseman would go to his left to field a ground ball, come down on one knee and make the play and then pick up a two foot by two foot piece of sod and step on his divot like he had just taken a chunk out of the fairway or something. It was kind of an interesting season.

“The best part was on Opening Day, they really wanted it to happen, but it just wasn’t going to happen. The field wasn’t ready because it had just rained and the sod had been laid like two hours ago. We were kind of watching the festivities and the one lady, Christine Todd Whitman, she was the Governor, I think she autographed a baseball to be thrown out for the first pitch. And some guy jumped out of an airplane with the ball signed by the Governor in his hand, landed with his parachute and handed it to the local mayor or whatever to throw out the first pitch. So they had all these festivities, and everybody involved that had to play baseball was just looking at the field and going, ‘Uh-uh, no way.’

“I mean it was just muddy and sloshy, and the sod was just kind of floating around and we were just kind of waiting for them to call the game. So I walk down on the field, stood on the mound and looked at home plate, and took two big steps and then it was lined up. So home plate was over here somewhere and the mound was over there. So it was a work in progress, for pretty much the whole season I think. I went back there in ’99 I guess, maybe even a little later than that, and it was a lot better. It’s great now.”

Ahearne last pitched with the Makoto Cobras of the Chinese Professional Baseball League towards the end of 2007, and has taken an interest in photography.  To see some of his work, you can go here

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT