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Thursday, October 7, 2021

Toby Borland almost quit pros, then made nine majors seasons

Toby Borland 1990 Clearwater Phillies card

Toby Borland made AAA in 1993, but, as his numbers fell, he was ready to end his career and go home, he recalled to The Camden Courier-Post in spring 1996.

"With about a month and a half to go in the 1993 season, I had my bags packed," Borland told The Courier-Post then. "I called my parents and told them I was coming home. They talked me into staying. The Phillies protected me over the winter. That's probably the only reason I went back to spring training."

Borland did go to spring training for 1994 - and he eventually made the Phillies. He went on to see time in nine major league seasons. 

Though he fought through adversity on the field, his biggest adversity would come later off of it, including the loss in 1999 of his 4-year-old son.

Borland's career began in 1987, taken by the Phillies in the 27th round of the draft out of Quitman High School in Louisiana.

Borland started with the Phillies in 1988 at rookie Martinsville. He went 2-3, with a 4.04 ERA over 34 relief outings. He saved 12.

He moved to single-A Spartanburg in 1989, then high-A Clearwater and AA Reading in 1990. He made AAA Scranton in 1992, but ended with a 7.24 ERA over 27 relief outings.

Borland played 1993 between Reading and Scranton, then started 1994 back at Scranton. That May, he made Philadelphia.

He got into 24 games in relief, picked up a win and a save and ended with a 2.36 ERA. He picked up his win in a June contest where he pitched three scoreless innings in relief. 

"Getting a win in the big leagues, that's something," Borland told The Associated Press. "I didn't even think I'd  make it, much less get a win."

Borland then saw 50 outings with the Phillies in 1995, picking up six saves. In 1996, he saw 69 outings and had a 4.07 ERA.

Borland saw 16 outings between the Mets and Red Sox in 1997 and six with the Phillies in 1998. In June 1999, he learned he needed Tommy John surgery

Three days later, doctors found a tumor in his son Blaise's brain. Blaise passed away a year later. He also lost his brother a month before his son's passing.

"I've been through a lot, but no one's excluded from hardships," Borland told The South Florida Sun Sentinel in 2002.  "I felt it was a privilege that God chose me to go through this. He knew I could handle it. That's not saying I want to go through anything like this again."

Borland returned to the majors, but not until 2001. He saw two games that year with the Angels, then 15 more with the Marlins in 2002. He saw seven relief outings with Florida in 2004 and 18 final major league appearances there in 2004.

Toby Borland 1990 Clearwater Phillies card

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:3,750
Made the Majors:1,271-33.9%-X
Never Made Majors:2,479-66.1%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:524-X
10+ Seasons in the Minors:310

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