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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Chris Jelic, All Worthwhile - 369

Chris Jelic had been to spring training twice in his four-year professional career, he told The Houston Chronicle in December 1988.

He saw the lifestyle of the big league players and it was that didn't seem so bad.

"I'm struggling now, sure," Jelic told The Chronicle. "But what's a little struggling if I make the big leagues? That would make it all worthwhile."

Jelic struggled through two more full seasons in the minors, before finally making it to the bigs. He made it for all of four games, getting a single hit.

That hit was a home run.

Jelic's path to that one major league hit began in 1985, taken by the Royals in the second round of the draft out of the University of Pittsburgh.

At Pittsburgh, Jelic played baseball. But he also played football, serving as the starting punter, but also as a backup quarterback. He fought for the starting quarterback job then later came in as quarterback. He threw for 170 yards in one October 1984 game, 17 for 34.

Jelic started at short-season Eugene, hitting .313. He moved to single-A Fort Myers in 1986. For 1987, Jelic arrived in the Mets organization, part of the David Cone trade.

The catcher hit AA Jackson that year for 50 games. He returned for another 88 in 1988. That year, though, Jelic ran into a nagging shoulder injury, an injury that would force him from behind the plate and drop his average at one point to .221 by late June.

Jelic finished 1988 with a .209 average. By 1989, Jelic was an infielder, a position change that took pressure off of his shoulder.

He ended that season hitting .257, earning a promotion for 1990 to AAA Tidewater. With Tidewater, Jelic improved his average further, to .306. He also earned a spot as a September call-up to the Mets.

With the Mets, though, Jelic didn't debut until Sept. 30. He got into just four games, with 11 at bats. Against the Pittsburgh Pirates, in Pittsburgh, Jelic homered for his only major league hit.

Jelic returned to AAA in 1991, with the Padres, staying in the San Diego organization through 1993. He didn't make it back to the majors.

After that home run against the Pirates, though, Jelic found it perfect.

"The last game, my last at-bat and in my hometown," Jelic told The Associated Press, only meaning to reference the season, "you couldn't write a better script."
1990 CMC Tally
Cards Featured:
650/880 - 73.9%
Players/Coaches Featured:
Made the Majors:
448 - 68%-X
Never Made the Majors:

5+ Seasons in the Majors:
10+ Seasons in the Minors:

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