July 19, 2019

Mike Trombley Did It All as a Major League Pitcher

May 5, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

Right-handed pitcher Mike Trombley wasn’t a particularly high draft choice,  but was in the major leagues with four years of being drafted. He ended up filling every role on a pitching staff during his ensuing quality 11-year career.

Following a solid career with Duke University, Trombley was taken in the 14th round of the 1989 draft by the Minnesota Twins. A starter, he moved quickly in the system, winning 14 games in 1990 and another 12 in 1991. After going 10-8 with a 3.65 ERA in the first two thirds of the season in 1992, he was called up to the Twins, who had won the World Series the year before and were on the hunt for another pennant (They ended up winning 90 games and finishing second).

Trombley cemented his place with the team during the remainder of the 1992 season. He appeared in 10 games (making seven starts) and was 3-2 with a 3.30 ERA. He had a memorable debut on August 19th, pitching a scoreless seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians, which included a strikeout of speedy leadoff man Kenny Lofton.

In the coming years, Trombley toggled between starting and relieving, before finally settling into the bullpen for good in 1996. He took on yet another role in 1999 when he became the Twins’ closer after Rick Aguilera was traded to the Chicago Cubs in late May. He finished 2-8 with a 4.33 ERA and 24 saves in 75 games for a Minnesota team that lost 97 games.

That offseason, he parlayed his performance by signing a free-agent contract with the Baltimore Orioles. After pitching for them and the Los Angeles Dodgers, he returned to the Twins in 2002 for five games, in what turned out to be his final major league season. He finished with career totals of 509 games (36 starts), a 37-47 record, 44 saves and a 4.48 ERA.

These days Trombley works in financial planning and enjoying his family. Keep reading for his recollections of his time in baseball.

Mike Trombley Interview:

Who was your favorite player when you were growing up, and why? Carlton Fisk. I was born in 1967 and just as I started following baseball the Red Sox played in the World Series in 1975 versus the Reds. Fisk’s home run in Game 6 clinched it for me. He was also a New England guy, as was I.

Can you please describe what your draft experience was like, being taken in the 14th round by the Twins in 1989?: I was very happy to be drafted in the 14th round by the Twins out of Duke University in ’89. I was never a big prospect and was very fortunate to get the scouts attention.

How did you find out that you had first been called up the big leagues, and what was your reaction?: I was playing for the Portland Beavers in the Pacific Coast League. We were playing in Calgary. I was not pitching that day and played golf that morning with a few guys on the team. As I returned, my manager Scotty Ullger told me I was flying to Cleveland the next day to meet the Twins there to play the Indians. I was beyond excited and thankful.

What do you remember most about your major league debut (against the Cleveland Indians, and striking out Kenny Lofton)?: It was in old Municipal Stadium in Cleveland.  I don’t remember too many details about that outing, as I was extremely nervous. I remember being in a daze on the mound wondering what the heck I was doing out there on an MLB mound. Somehow, I got three outs.

In your opinion, who was the most underrated player you ever played with or against, and on the other side who was the most talented player you ever played with or against?: There were a few guys that come to mind when I think of underrated . I’m going with guys I saw every day. Chuck KnoblauchShane Mack and Torii Hunter. If I had to pick one I’d go with Shane Mack. The other guys got a little more attention than Shane. He was a tremendous player. I’d say the most talented player all around was Ken Griffey Jr. Could do it all!!

What is your favorite moment from your baseball career?: Tough one. I’d say it was a combination of several.  I was the right man at the right time in many games. I saw four guys get their 3000th hit –Dave WinfieldEddie Murray, Paul Molitor and Cal Ripken Jr. (I gave up Murray’s 3000th hit). I also was lucky enough to see four no-hitters too; Scott EricksonDavid WellsEric Milton and Hideo Nomo (Wells’ was a perfect game). I also was with the Dodgers (in San Francisco) when Barry Bonds set the single season home run record in 2001, and in San Diego (with Dodgers) when Rickey Henderson broke the all-time runs scored record in 2001. How lucky was I to see all those games live?!

Did you prefer starting or relieving, and why was that?:  When I was young I preferred starting but enjoyed being a reliever much more as I got older. I was much better suited to pitch out of the bullpen as I could pitch almost every day.

Who was your favorite coach or manager, and what made them your choice?: I was lucky to have great managers and coaches all through my career. All good people. If I had to choose one I’d say Tom Kelly. I had him for seven years in Minnesota. I learned a lot from him on how to be big leaguer.

What, if anything, would you have done differently in your baseball career?: Not a lot. As I said, I was never a big prospect or high draft pick. I really appreciated my time in baseball and felt very fortunate to be there. I took it all in. I will say that I probably could have played a few more years but my kids were growing up and I made the decision to stop to be around my family more.

What are you up to these days?: I am the owner/managing partner of a financial planning company, Trombley Associates in western Massachusetts. I’ve said before that I was a financial advisor long before I was a professional baseball player (and probably better at it too). I still play a lot of golf and help young baseball players when I can. I’ve been married to my Duke University sweetheart for 27 years and have three kids; daughter Tory 24; son Kyle 21; and daughter Alex 17.

Andrew Martin is the founder of “The Baseball Historian” blog where he posts his thoughts about baseball on a regular basis. You can also reach him on Twitter at @historianandrew or on Facebook.

He has also authored a number of books (eBook and paperback) on baseball that are available on Amazon

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