Shawn Garrett, a Kinmundy, Illinois native, announced his retirement from professional baseball at the end of the 2008 season. Shawn spent his entire career in the minors.
Of course we have a special interest, not only because he's an alumni of the same grade school and high school that I attended, he's also our cousin.
Kinmundy (population 900) is your average small mid-western town with with the pride and values that come with it. Shawn's great-great-great-great-grandpa Garrett settled on a farm just northwest of Kinmundy back in the late 1820's, and his family has called it home ever since. Shawn has a ton of relatives that still live in the area including parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and a whole bunch of cousins. Since Kinmundy is situated in the bottom third of Illinois, and is about 80 miles straight east of St. Louis, he naturally grew up an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. Right there we knew he had good taste.
Shawn started out playing little league in Kinmundy, then played for South Central High School, the consolidated school of Kinmundy, Alma, Farina, and St. Peter. After graduation he went on to play college ball at Olney Central College in Olney, IL.
This picture was taken in August 2004 when we saw Shawn play in Colorado Springs, CO while he was with the Sky Sox.
Click here for Shawn's career stats.
Our family has been fortunate enough to get to watch Shawn play on three different teams. We saw him in Lake Elsinore, CA, Tulsa, OK, and Colorado Springs, CO. Within a week of our family seeing him play in California (2001) and Tulsa (2004), he was moved up into the next level. Perhaps we should go visit him more often for good luck!
Kara and Tyler with Shawn when he was with the Storm team in Lake Elsinore, CA,
an affiliate team of the San Diego Padres in April of 2001.
See more pictures of Shawn at the other ballparks.
2004 Colorado Springs Trip
2004 Tulsa Trip
Connor and Tyler with Shawn in July 2004 when he played with the Tulsa Drillers, a AA team of the Colorado Rockies.
DES MOINES, Iowa - Road trips often mean time closer to home for Shawn Garrett.
Garrett, the River Cats' right fielder, played in front of a small cheering section in Thursday's 12-10 win over the Iowa Cubs. Garrett's hometown of Kinmundy, Ill. is about seven hours from Principal Park. It's a big city of about 900," Garrett said. "My dad and my grandpa were here, and some friends of the family. They usually take vacation to see me play."
The drive was worth the gas money as Garrett went 2 for 3, raising his batting average to .296. Garrett, who played in the Colorado Rockies organization last season in Tulsa and Colorado Springs, found a home further away from home when he came to the two-time defending Pacific Coast League champions in November. "Everybody gets along really well here, and obviously there's a pretty good tradition from what's happened the last two years," Garrett said.
Garrett has never played in the big leagues and is not on the A's 40-man roster. Hope remains strong, but Garrett doesn't wait for the phone to ring.
"It still seems like a long shot to me, so I don't spend too much time thinking about it, and (I'll) let it be a pleasant surprise if it happens," Garrett said. "I feel like I have the ability to compete at that level. I think when you lose that hope, it can be real frustrating, but I still have that."
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Chris Coste and Shawn Garrett live on rookie/non-roster invitee row in the Phillies clubhouse, away from the established veterans and top prospects.They've played in a combined 17 cities and towns, and none with a Major League address. Garrett's lists of towns reads: Idaho Falls, Ft. Wayne, Lake Elsinore, Lynchburg, Altoona, Tulsa, Colorado Springs and Sacramento; while Coste's reads: Brandon, Fargo, Akron, Buffalo, Pawtucket, Indianapolis and Scranton.
Both entered Spring Training knowing their place on the organizational depth chart, but that doesn't mean they won't try to make the most of their opportunity.
"I feel like I have to be [optimistic]," said Garrett. "I've done everything I can to put myself in this situation. Part of the reason of me signing here was knowing that I have an opportunity -- and I haven't felt that in other places."
Garrett, 27, homered for the second time in four games on Wednesday, sending a Justin Miller pitch out of Bright House Networks Field, literally. It was reminiscent of the ball Ryan Howard hit on Friday against the Yankees.
"I don't think I have that one in me," Garrett said. "That's about as good as I got right there."The switch-hitter is giving it his all this spring, as he tries for the carrot that is the job of power-hitting outfielder off the bench. He tries not to think about the scenarios which have him making his Major League debut. His family does that for him.
"I've been pretty well informed of that by my family and friends who have been scouring the Internet," Garrett said.
Coste's situation is more complex. The 33-year-old journeyman has never worn a Major League uniform, but he has kept his dream alive with productive early spring performances. The right-handed-hitting Coste is 5-for-10 with a home run.Even though manager Charlie Manuel is familiar with his offensive abilities, Coste understands the numbers game better than anyone.
As a first/third baseman, he's in the back of the line behind Alex Gonzalez, Abraham Nunez, Tomas Perez and Matt Kata. That's why Coste was excited when he saw his name in the starting lineup -- at catcher.
"When I walked in here [Wednesday], this is how it went," he said. "I walked up to the lineup card to look under the reserves. Usually, I'm the first reserve on the right-handed side, because I'm a [catcher]. I didn't see it there. Maybe they put me in the left-handers. No. Switch-hitters? No. Pitchers? No. Then I saw my name in the lineup, and I thought they were giving Ryan Howard a day off, then I saw a '2' next to it, and I was really surprised. I was hoping they would give me a chance to catch a little bit more."
Coste describes himself as a catcher first, and he hopes other teams can see him that way. While he hasn't logged too many innings behind the plate in the Minors, he caught exclusively in winter ball over the past four years.It's the only chance he has.
"People see me as a position player who can catch, when I'm a catcher that can play other positions," Coste said. "That's a huge difference, and what I've been trying to get people to see since I was 23 years old. I think I'm getting to catch because I've been hitting pretty well and they want to see if I can handle it. There are plenty of first/third baseman to go around. If I don't at least show the catching, there's no place for me."There's almost certainly no place for both on the roster, but that hasn't stopped them from pulling for each other.
"We root for each other," said Garrett. "I look at guys like that with experience, if the timing is right and things fall into place, they'll make the most of their opportunity. It's inspirational for me to see those guys do well."
When I researched and drafted up the mid-season report of Estranged Friars who are currently playing with different MLB organizations, I noticed that several had landed in the Seattle Mariners farm system. Travis Chick, Jared Wells (Wizards in 2004), Jon Huber (Wizard in 2003) are currently in that system. Chick is in West Tennessee (AA), while Wells and Huber are at Triple-A Tacoma with Shawn Garrett; another former Wizard. I missed on the original list, but after learning more, realize he makes for a great Wizards Where R They?
Garrett was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 29th round (890th overall) way back in 1997. He chose to spend one year at Olney Community College before beginning his pro ball days. His 1998 and 1999 seasons were spent in the Arizona and Pioneer Rookie Leagues before settling into the 2000 season in Fort Wayne. While with the Wizards, he appears in 123 games where he collected 119 hits (43 for extra bases), 10 home runs and 55 runs batted in over 438 at-bats. It was enough to post a respectable .272 average to go with a .341 on-base percentage.
The 2001 season saw Garrett build upon that success at Lake Elsinore, where he was batting 3.13 before being sent to the Pittsburgh Pirates along with RHP Shawn Camp in exchange for outfielder, Emil Brown. He hit .294 the rest of the 2001 campaign and spent all of 2002 and 2003 with Double-A Altoona and posted similar numbers; hovering right around .300 with quality at-bats that saw a rise in power and run production.
Before the start of the 2004 season, Garrett was traded to the Colorado Rockies and assigned to their Double-A squad in Tulsa. He again produced solid numbers and was promoted to their Triple-A level following an opening from the trade that sent Larry Walker to the Cardinals. In the thirty games that comprised his first Triple-A stint, Garrett posted a .371 batting average with 43 hits, 25 runs and 22 runs batted in to accompany his three home runs and .461 OBP.
Garrett became a free agent following the 2004 campaign and singed with Oakland, where he was assigned to their Triple-A Sacramento team. The 2005 season saw another good showing, falling just short of a .300 average, but producing a career high 82 runs batted in over 508 at-bats. His 111 strikeouts are also a career high.
It was a consistent year. I was in the line-up every day. I thought (coming off this season) it was my best opportunity to make the big team¯ [source: Tacoma Weekly].
Garrett split the 2006 season between Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre and Triple A Memphis (St. Louis), but his numbers took a serious nosedive at both locales; barely hitting .220 at either stop. The 2007 season saw a rebound of sorts while playing with Double-A Trenton (Yankees) and Double-A Birmingham (ChiSox).
2008 saw Garrett start the year with another organization at Double-A West Tennessee (Mariners). After 23 games, he was promoted to Triple-A Tacoma where he continues to make his case for big league action. In 11 seasons, heā€™s played in 11 different MLB organizations. He was named an All-Star in 1998, 2000 (with the Wizards), 2002, 2003, and 2004 in addition to posting consistent solid numbers, the only exception being in 2006.
On the season, Garrett is hitting .276 through July 13. He's slugged 6 home runs and drove in 43 runs while collecting 128 total bases in 304 at-bats. His on-base percentage is hovering right around .420 and hit safely in 6 of his last 10 games.“My little window of prospect status has come and gone . . . Now I want to do whatever I can do to help myself be a good player, plus switch hitting should help me stay in the game for awhile longer.
Mitch Jones is the biggest fish in the puddle, the fastest snail on the beach, the best understudy on Broadway. No active player has hit more home runs in the minor leagues—nearly 200 dingers—without getting a shot at the bigs.Nine years now, and not even an at-bat. These September call-ups could be his last chance. He's 30, and 30-year-olds get called up every other pyramid. Why didn't he make it? Because he was dumb enough to start his career at the exact wrong time in baseball history: during the Pharmacy Era, when old guys got young with syringes and injured guys got well with shipments from Mexico.
Is he hacked off? Sort of. "I got screwed," says Jones, now with the Las Vegas 51s. "But I'm not the only one."Is he mad enough to sue? Because he should. I think minor league players like Jones should file a class action, restraint of trade lawsuit against Major League Baseball because they sat stewing in the minors while big leaguers were allowed to cheat.
Take Shawn Garrett of the Tacoma Rainiers, who, at 29, has played the most games (more than 1,200 since 1998) without being called up. He's had to participate in four cow-milking contests on the field. He's had to wear Hawaiian Night jerseys, camo jerseys, pink jerseys and tie-dye jerseys. He's a lifetime .290 hitter and never had day one in the majors. In 2004, playing part of the season for the Rockies' Triple-A affiliate, he hit .371, and you'd have thought his phone was broken.Garrett, who's been on 15 teams, can't explain it. "Maybe you can find out," he says. "There must be something I'm not doing."
Yeah, steroids. THEIR DREAMS DIED IN CLUBHOUSE JOHNS.Was he ever tempted? "You know, I've seen guys go on the stuff and get called up. It wasn't even a secret. We knew what was going on. But I never considered it for two seconds. There's right and there's wrong. Those guys have to look themselves in the mirror. I have two little girls. Who knows what the long-term side effects are?"
You think the steroids issue is dead, but it isn't. These guys live with the fallout every day. Their dreams died in big league clubhouse johns. I'm telling you: lawsuit. Stanford labor law professor emeritus William Gould IV says the idea "is very interesting" but that they'd need to prove three things to win:1) A correlation between steroid use and better performance. (Please.)
2) That baseball turned a blind eye to steroid use. (Exhibit A: baseball's own Mitchell Report. It blames Bud Selig and players association COO Gene Orza for allowing steroids to spread like crabgrass. Mitchell said there was a "code of silence" in baseball. You think? Oriole David Segui told his GM that he wanted to go to Florida to pick up juice, and the GM never reported it. A Twins visiting clubhouse attendant found a used syringe and told manager Tom Kelly, who never reported it. The thing has more conspiracies than an Oliver Stone movie.)3) "Nonstatutory labor exemption considerations," Gould IV says. That's just so complicated it makes our head ache, but a good shark would gobble it right up.
Jones played in the Yankees' farm system from 2000 to 2006 as a corner outfielder and first baseman. He hit 39 HRs in a season, and nobody in the Bronx even blinked. That's because the Yankees had Jason Giambi at first and Gary Sheffield in right. And guess who were both cited in the Mitchell Report? Giambi and Sheffield.Tori Spelling could win this case!
"Man, I look at what those guys make," says Jones, who's never driven anything nicer than a Toyota pickup, "and I think, That could've been me."What happened to Jones on May 19, 2006, alone ought to be worth a few mil in punitive damages. He was in Richmond when the Yankees called him up, emergency style. He raced to the airport, flew to LaGuardia, got in a cab, had to talk his way into Yankee Stadium, picked up his uniform, called his dad to tell him ("I'd always dreamed of the day I'd make that call," Jones says), sat next to Sheffield in the dugout (oh, irony!) and … never got into the game.
Afterward, Joe Torre called him into his office and said, "Man, I hate to do this to you, but we're sending you back down." Jones was, naturally, crushed. But the worst part was still to come:"I had to call my dad back."
He hasn't been up since.Now Jones is in the Dodger organization, and guess who's the Dodger manager? Torre.
Hey, Joe, call him up right now, and we'll ask the lawyers to go easy on you during the cross.
I highly encourage you to check out this great Bloomberg article by Scott Soshnick. In it, he details the career of former Wizard, Shawn Garrett, as one of the clean athletes of the game, and one of the victims of the now storied “steroid era” that has played out . . .
Sports Illustrated’s Joe Posnanski in a recent column wrote about the one guy he’d love to find — the clean player of the steroids era. Not just the guy who didn’t use, but the guy who was offered the shortcut; the guy who smelled fame and fortune and said no anyway.
Well, Joe, meet Shawn Garrett, who in 1998 got $50,000 when he signed with the San Diego Padres out of Olney Central College in Illinois.
Garrett retired last week after 11 bus-riding seasons in the minors. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Garrett was a multiple All- Star who called it quits with a career batting average of .291 to go along with 116 home runs over 1,228 games.
A little more pop in that bat and who knows. The dream died, though. Garrett never got the call, the one every minor- leaguer dreams of, the one where his manager summons him to the office and tells him that he’s going to The Show.
... All in all, Garrett played one year at both class A and A+, five seasons in Double A and four seasons at Triple A. Throughout those 11 seasons he was featured by Rick Reilly in the August 2008 edition of ESPN Magazine, made five All-Star appearances and got invited to two big league camps with Oakland Athletics and the Philadelphia Phillies.
Garrett says his best opportunity to make the big leagues was un 2006, when he broke camp with the Phillies and played in a preseason exhibition game against the Red Sox. After the game though, he was sent down to Triple-A and battled injuries throughout the season. "Charlie Manuel, who was the Phillies manager, had told me he expected me to be back in Philly in no time, but that didn't happen," Garrett said.
Regardless of never making the Major Leagues, Garrett had some memorable moments in the minors. Those moments included homering off two future Cy Young winners; Josh Becket and Matt Cain, leading the Texas League in hitting at the 2004 All-Star break with a .365 average and finishing the year at a .371 clip for the Triple-A Colorado Rockies and playing for the Lake Elsinore Storm, the Minor League Team of the Year in 2001.
Olney Central College (Olney, IL)
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Updated: 09/07/20 Comments? Dolores@ford-mobley.com