Thursday, October 22, 2015

Pat Kelly, World Stage - 16

Originally published Sept. 17, 2010
Pat Kelly took the batter's box in the top of the ninth, his Yankees down 3-2 on this day, Sept. 29, 1995. The Yankees were ahead in the Wild Card, but only barely.

Kelly deposited a 2-2 pitch over the left field wall, and over Joe Carter, for what would turn out to be the game-winner.

"I was looking at Carter, and the way he was going back made me think he had a play on it,'' Kelly told The Hartford Courant afterward. "Once the ball went over, I was excited. It has been a roller-coaster ride for me this year. Hopefully, someday I can find out what it's like to be in a World Series.''

Kelly never got to play in a World Series, his Yankees were ousted that year by the Mariners. But he has gotten on to another world stage. The Pennsylvania-native has since moved to Australia, coaching the Australian national team and serving as a GM in the fledgling Australian Baseball League.

Kelly joined the Yankees system in 1988, taken in the ninth round of the draft out of West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He played that year at short-season Oneonta, made AA Albany-Colonie in 1990 and AAA Columbus and the Bronx in 1991.

Soon after he was brought up, Yankees manager Stump Merrill switched Kelly from second base to third base. Kelly didn't care where he was playing, just as long as he was playing.

"He told me that it was fine with him," Merrill told Newsday, "He said he'd shine the shoes or mop the floors if that's what we wanted him to do. Anything to stay in the major leagues."

Kelly played in 96 games for the Yankees that year, hitting .242. He returned for 106 games in 1992 and another 127 in 1993, hitting .226 and .273 respectively.

In 1992, Kelly was working on securing a starting spot for himself, his hometown Allentown Morning Call wrote.

"I've been hitting the ball pretty well lately," Kelly told The Morning Call that July. "The difference is getting there every day and playing."

He also had speed. In one July 1993 game, Kelly was put in to pinch run, getting picked off. But he made his difference when he stayed in the game, hitting a ninth-inning single to win the game.

By 1994, Kelly was working on working his way up the lineup. But, like where he played in the field, he didn't care where he batted in the lineup, he told The Courant.

"That's all right,'' Kelly told The Courant that March about his expectations to hit at the bottom of the order. "Whether I'm batting second or ninth, I still have the same job to do. Maybe down the road in my career I'll bat at the top of the order, but I have to show I can get on base more regularly and use my speed better.''

Kelly played 89 games in 1995, and played in the post season, but his career was on the decline. In 1996, the Yankees' first World Series win, Kelly played in just 13 games, not making it to the post season.

Kelly played just one more year with the Yankees, in 1997. He played with the Cardinals in 1998, then ended his playing career with the Blue Jays in 1999.

After his playing career, Kelly has served as a spring training coach and as a scout. But, perhaps his most notable role has been as promoter of baseball in Australia.

Kelly married an Australian and has since moved there, continuing his baseball work as a coach of the Australian national team and GM of the new Adelaide Bite of the Australian Baseball League.

“It’s definitely for the love of the game,” Kelly told The Times in 2009 as his Australian club competed in the World Baseball Classic. “That’s the biggest clich√© in the world, but there are guys who can really play here. It’s just a matter of getting the resources out to help it along.”

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