Journeyman pitcher Jim Bruske shares odd place in baseball history
Ever since 1998, when he pitched for both the San Diego Padres and New York Yankees,
Though his career was one that screamed
"I didn't know," he says. "Not a clue."
Truth is, until a reporter called Bruske late Sunday, the 46-year-old Paradise Valley, Ariz., resident wasn't aware of his quirky place in baseball lore. He knew there couldn't have been many others who shared a similar circumstance, but didn't realize he was the last. Or at least the last until Wednesday, when Texas/San Francisco catcher
"I'm not so into baseball history, but I figured it was pretty rare," says Bruske, now a co-owner of The Marsh Partners, a Scottsdale-based real estate firm. "It just never meant that much to me. But I guess it's interesting."
Twelve years ago, Bruske was enjoying one of the finest seasons of his wayward career, appearing in 35 games as a reliever with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was 3-0 with a 3.48 ERA, and after bouncing around for so long, finally felt at home with an organization. Then on July 23, he was traded to the first-place Padres for somebody named
Bruske pitched in five games for Triple A-Las Vegas and four more for the Padres, and couldn't help but think he just might be a part of the club's playoff roster. Exactly one month after being shipped to San Diego, however, he was traded again -- this time to the Yankees for the immortal duo of
On the bright side, Bruske will forever be listed on the Yankees' alltime roster, wedged in between
Though Bruske didn't expect to make New York's postseason roster, he had hoped to be allowed to put on a uniform, sit in the dugout and watch. Instead, the organization asked him to go to Tampa and stay sharp in the Instructional League, just in case of an injury to another pitcher. Away from the action, bored out of his skull, pitching to 19-year-old kids before 23 fans, Bruske sat in front of the television, torn. "I suppose I rooted for the Yankees, but if I'm going to be 100-percent honest, I really didn't care which team won," he says. "[Padres closer]
As will soon be the case with Molina, Bruske owns two pieces of jewelry. He rarely wears the Padres' National League Champions ring or the Yankees' World Series Champions ring, opting instead for the non-flashy bare-fingered look. Speaking like the prototypical baseball vagabond, Bruske says he'll watch the Fall Classic and pull for Molina, a catcher he believes he once worked with. "We were teammates," he says. "He's a helluva catcher and a helluva guy. We played together in ... uh ... ah ... I think, hmm, it was ... it might have been winter ball. Mexico, maybe. Or Puerto Rico or Venezuela. Or the Dominican. I remember throwing to him, I think, and I'm sure we probably might have had a beer together."
Whether Bruske and Molina shared drinks matters not. In 2010, they share something much more precious: Semi-immortal spots on an eclectic list of six.