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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Frank Bolick hit five homers in majors, hit more in Japan

Frank Bolick 1990 Stockton Ports card
It was the bottom of the 11th and Frank Bolick came to bat for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in this May 1986 game.

Facing Western Carolina, Bolick launched one off Western Carolina hurler Gary Shamp for a game-winning home run.

"(Shamp) was down 2-0 in the count, so I was hoping for a fastball," Bolick told The South Florida Sun Sentinel after the game. "He gave me one inside and I knew it was out. I just didn't know if it was fair or foul."

It was a walk-off home run for Bolick and Georgia Tech. Bolick would go on to hit his share of home runs as a professional, 171 in the minors and five more in the majors.

Later in his career, though, a Bolick walk-off home run would see a change in descriptor, from "walk-off" to "sayonara."

Bolick's professional career began in 1987, taken out of Georgia Tech by the Brewers in ninth round. He made single-A Beloit in 1988 then high-A Stockton for 1990. His stay in the Brewers ended by June 1990, when he was traded to the Mariners for Mickey Brantley. He also won MVP of the California League that year.

Bolick stayed with the Mariners system through 1992, making AAA Calgary. The Mariners then sent him to the Expos for 1993. It was with the Expos that Bolick made the majors.

Bolick stayed up with the Expos almost the entire year in 1993, getting into 95 games. He hit just .211, with four home runs. One of those home runs was a three-run shot in May off Curt Schilling.

After spending 1993 in the majors, it was back to the minors for 1994. Bolick got back, but not until 1998, with the Angels. In the meantime, he went through the Rockies, Pirates and Indians systems, along with independent ball.

With the Angels, Bolick played 21 games, batting just .156. The stint was marked by getting sucker punched by Felix Martinez to start a brawl.

For 1999, Bolick moved to Japan, signing with the Chiba Lotte Marines. He hit 26 home runs his first year, 28 the next and 34 in 2001. His final year came in 2002 with 61 games and just six home runs.

In 2000, Bolick became one of just two foreigners to make the Japanese All-Star Game. By early August, he was hitting .307. In July 2001, Bolick won MVP of the month honors, hitting eight home runs in 18 games, according to The Japan Times.

In winning MVP honors that month, one of his home runs was a "sayonara" grand slam, giving Chiba Lotte a 10-9 victory in the 10th inning. He was credited as being the first foreign-born player in Japan to hit a walk-off grand slam. The YouTube video of the slam is below.
Originally published April 29, 2011

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