Among Mariners fans, I've observed a lot of interest in what former players and prospects are up to with their playing days behind them. Maybe this isn't unique to Mariners fans, and I don't know why it would be unique to Mariners fans, but Mariners fans are the only fans I ever really observe, so. People are interested in knowing what Ryan Anderson is up to. People are interested in knowing what Chris Snelling is up to. People are probably interested in knowing what Clint Nageotte and Rett Johnson are up to, although I have no idea.
I've recently been updated on what Bobby Madritsch is up to. I remember how popular Madritsch was when he emerged and ultimately burned out years ago, so I figured I'd share with the group.
The picture kind of says it all. Madritsch is in Burbank, Illinois, where he was born and went to high school. There, he helped to start a youth baseball organization called the Burbank Knights, with this modest website. He has worked with his brother Ken, and Bobby manages the oldest players on the travel ball club. This is the Knights' first year of existence, and they anticipate a lot of growth going forward. These are mostly words that have been fed to me, which you can probably tell, but Bobby is apparently quite the inspirational leader. Which maybe shouldn't be a huge surprise, given what he fought through on his way to the top.
Madritsch today is just 36 years old. Three weeks ago, he was 35. He hasn't pitched in the Majors since 2005, and he hasn't pitched in affiliated minors since 2004. After his shoulder blew up, he was finished, and he signed with the Royals and got released by the Royals without ever throwing an inning. Madritsch's career didn't go the way anyone wanted it to. But his career did get him to the Major Leagues, and he did post a 3.41 ERA in the Major Leagues, so it's not like the whole thing was a bust. Madritsch did beat the odds to make it, if only for a little while, and if that experience helps him to lead and inspire a team of developing teenagers, then that's terrific. Playing baseball was not the only way for Bobby Madritsch to make a difference. It was just one of the ways.
I don't know how we're supposed to feel about Bobby Madritsch's current situation, given what could have been his current situation, but I hope that the answer is "good". I hope he's coaching his heart out, and I know if I were a 14-year-old I'd be scared to death of disappointing a man with a neck tattoo.