Sunday, June 28, 2009

Roberto Petagine

I discovered the other day that one of the 2009 inductees to the International League Hall Of Fame was former Yakult Swallow and Yomiuri Giant star Roberto Petagine.

Petagine was originally signed out of Venezuela by the Astros in 1990 and worked his way through their system, briefly reaching the majors in 1994 before being traded during the off season to the Padres in the big 12 player trade in the middle of the strike. After one season in the Padres organization, he was traded to the Mets and spent most of the next two seasons at Norfolk, their AAA team in the International League. He was the International League's MVP in 1997, but the Mets had John Olerud at first, so that winter they traded him to the Reds. He won a second International League MVP at Indianapolis in 1998, becoming the first player ever to win back-to-back MVPs in that league. Unfortunately, winning back-to-back MVPs in the same minor league is a strong hint that you're not going to move up (because if you were, you'd have moved up after the first MVP award) so that winter, Petagine agreed to let the Reds sell his contract to the Yakult Swallows.

He ended up playing six seasons in Japan - four with Yakult and two with Yomiuri. He won the Central League MVP in 2001 when he helped lead the Swallows to the Nippon Series Championship. He hit 223 home runs (leading the league in 1999 and 2001) and batted .317. He replaced Hideki Matsui in the Giants lineup in 2003, moving to the outfield after playing mostly at first for the Swallows (Kazuhiro Kiyohara was playing first for the Giants at this point).

Following his six years in Japan, Petagine returned to the states to play in the Red Sox organization in 2005 and the Mariners organization in 2006.

Here's a couple cards from his career. From the top, this is his 1999 BBM card (#339), his 2001 BBM Nippon Series card (#S18) and his 2003 Calbee card (#004):

The International League Hall Of Fame is having induction ceremonies at various ballparks this summer. The schedule is here. Petagine's induction has not yet been scheduled.

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