Even though he had been one of the heroes for the Yankees in their 1999 World Series win over the Braves, Chad Curtis’s days in Pinstripes were numbered following that Fall Classic. Why? In August of that year, he had vocally criticized Yankee idol Derek Jeter for not actively defending his teammates in a brawl that took place during a game between New York and Seattle. Sure enough, that December Curtis was traded to the Texas Rangers for two Ranger pitching prospects, Brandon Knight and today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant.
Of the two, Sam Marsonek was considered more likely to make it to the big leagues. He was a six foot six inch right-handed native of Tampa, FL, who had been a Ranger first round draft pick in 1996. His numbers were not impressive during the three seasons he had spent in the Texas farm system and they really didn’t improve much during the next four years he spent with four different Yankee minor league clubs. Still, he was called up to the Bronx just before the 2004 All Star break and made his big league debut in a relief stint against Tampa Bay on July 11 of that season. He pitched 1.1 scoreless innings, New York won 10-3 and after the game the Yankee players scattered to enjoy their 3-day All Star break. Marsonek had planned a fishing weekend but he hadn’t planned on slipping on a pier and straining his knee. The injury landed him on the 15-day disabled list and then the 60-day disabled list and then a reassignment back to the Yankee farm system. He would spend the next three years trying to get back to the majors but he never did. Instead, he retired and started the Score International Baseball organization, a combination baseball camp and Christian mission for teenagers.
Marsonek shares his birthday with another former Yankee reliever.