A Moment With Tribe was a Prelude to a Moment in Time
By Christian Petrila
Is it coincidence that this week’s obscure Indian pitched exactly 216 career innings to match the area code of the greater-Cleveland area? Maybe, maybe not. However, in one of those 216 innings, he would go down in baseball infamy.
This week’s Flash in a Pan is Mike Bacsik.
Bacsik was drafted by the Indians in the 18th round of the 1996 draft. It took him almost five years to make it to the Majors, but he finally made it after putting up a combined 3.03 ERA between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Buffalo in 2001. It was arguably his best season in the minors, good enough for the Indians to promote him to Cleveland for the 2001 playoff push.
Bacsik’s first career appearance was an ugly relief appearance in one of the Indians’ most iconic wins. After a dismal start from Dave Burba, Bacsik came in out of the bullpen to provide some relief against the Seattle Mariners. Although he would provide the Indians with six innings of relief, he also providedSeattlewith seven runs (six earned) on nine hits. He also walked one and recorded his first two career strikeouts.
Yes, his debut was in that August 5, 2001 game againstSeattle. Bacsik’s debut came in the greatest comeback inClevelandhistory, as the Indians fought back from a 12-run seventh inning deficit to stun the Mariners, who were en route to a historic 116-win season.
That relief appearance would account for one-third of Bacsik’s Indians career. He only made two other appearances while donning the Chief Wahoo cap. His final line with the Indians: nine innings, 10 runs (nine earned), 13 hits, four strikeouts and three walks.
That offseason, Bacsik was included with Danny Peoples in the stunning trade that landed Roberto Alomar in a Mets uniform. The haul the Indians received from New York consisted of Alex Escobar, Matt Lawton, Jerrod Riggan, Earl Snyder and Billy Traber.
Bacsik’s best statistical year came in 2002 for the Mets, but it really wasn’t a glamorous season by any standards. He pitched in 11 games for the Mets – nine of them starts – and logged a 3-2 record with a 4.37 ERA. He pitched 55.2 innings while striking out 30 and walking 19.
His second season with the Mets was also his last season with the Mets, and it was short-lived. He went 1-2 with a 10.19 ERA in 17.2 innings. The next season, he played forTexas. As if it were possible, that campaign was even shorter for Bacsik. He only lasted 15.2 innings with the Rangers. He went 1-1 with a 4.60 ERA.
Bacsik’s career hit a snag after the Rangers. He signed with the Phillies after the season, but would spend the entire campaign in the minors. He was signed by the Nationals before Spring Training 2006, but was released before the regular season started. He would be picked up by the Diamondbacks, but just as he had with Philly, he would spend the whole season in the minors. Finally, in 2007, he got his second shot with the Nationals.
His 2007 season in general was uneventfully mediocre. By the time the season was over, he was 5-8 with a 5.11 ERA in 118 innings. However, it was a warm August night that vaulted Bacsik into history.
August 7, 2007.San Francisco. Bacsik started against a struggling Giants club. Normally, this type of game wouldn’t even register a blip on the national radar. The difference here is that Barry Bonds was in pursuit of Hank Aaron’s all-time home run record. Bonds had tied “Hammerin’ Hank” a few days earlier and was looking to break the record that Tuesday evening. ESPN was broadcasting the game and flashbulbs were popping with every pitch. Finally, in the fifth inning, the moment fans and ESPN producers were waiting for happened.
Bonds worked a full count from Bacsik when the southpaw threw a changeup. Bonds most certainly did not miss, and he ended up sending the historic blast about 440 feet to right-center. Bacsik didn’t even look at the homer. He just put his head down and started walking toward the plate.
His career didn’t consist of a whole lot after the 2007 season. He played the 2008 season in Triple-A for Washington, but he wouldn’t sniff the Majors again. He was out of baseball in 2009 and 2010 before playing independent ball in 2011 withFort Worth.
So that’s Mike Bacsik in a nutshell. A career that didn’t amount to much was still involved in some historic moments at the front and back ends of his career.