Thursday, June 23, 2011
Fernando Tatis, 2006 Upper Deck Gold #1009
If you remember Fernando Tatis at all, you remember him as he was with the 1999 Cardinals, when he put up a .298/.404/.553 line with 34 home runs and 107 RBI. He also had a ridiculous game on April 23 of that year in which he became the only player to hit two grand slams in the same inning...off of the same pitcher. (Why, yes, it was Chan Ho Park. Go figure.) Injuries sapped him of his effectiveness and playing time thereafter, and he seemed to be finished after hitting .194/.281/.263 in 53 games with the Expos in 2003. He was only 28 at that time.
Fernando didn't play at all in 2004 or 2005. But he got involved with the building of a church in his native Dominican Republic, and decided to attempt a comeback in 2006 to raise money for the project. The Orioles signed him to a minor league deal, and he started the season at AAA Ottawa. He hit .298 with a .372 on-base percentage in 90 games with the Lynx, and the O's promoted him to the big leagues in July. In his first start in over three years, he went 2-for-4 with a double, an RBI, and a pair of runs scored. A week later, he singled and homered against Randy Johnson. Though he played sparingly, he spent the rest of the season in Baltimore, and did well enough, hitting .250/.313/.500 with 2 homers and 8 RBI in 64 plate appearances. 9 of his 14 hits went for extra bases.
Tatis caught on with the Mets in 2007 and spent the entire year at AAA New Orleans, where he totaled 57 extra-base hits, including 21 home runs. He spent the next three seasons as an important role player in New York, with cumulative stats of .279/.343/.447, 21 home runs, and 101 RBI in 258 games. Now he appears to be retired for good, and there's a good chance that his church was built; in 2010, he earned $1.7 million from the Mets.