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Saturday, July 23, 2022

Joe Pettini drew striking comparisons early as player; Later managed, coached in bigs

At the outset of Joe Pettini's baseball career in 1977, he drew some pretty good comparisons, according to The Macon Telegraph.

"He kind of reminds me of a cross between Larry Bowa and Bud Harrelson - a little aggressive-type infielder," Montreal director of minor league personnel Jim Fanning told The Telegraph. "I'm surprised he wasn't drafted."

While he didn't exactly live up to the comparisons in longevity, he did make the majors over four seasons.

Pettini's career, however, would eventually resemble Bowa's and Harrelson's later - in a long career as a minor league manager and major league bench coach. Pettini would even get tastes filling in as a major league manager.

Pettini's long career in baseball began that year in 1977, signed by the Expos as an undrafted free agent out of Mercer University.

Pettini started out largely at short-season Jamestown. He then made AA Memphis in 1978, then AAA Denver in 1979. 

In July 1980, he made the majors with the Giants. He saw 63 games that year and hit .232. He returned for 35 games in 1981, 29 in 1982 and 61 final major league games in 1983.

He continued playing three more seasons in the minors at AAA, his last in 1986 at Louisville.

In 1985, at Louisville, Pettini reflected on his playing career with The Louisville Courier-Journal.

"I don't think I do any one thing really that great," Pettini told The Courier-Journal. "I've never had the  talent that a lot of guys did. So I always had to work at it, in order to play the brand of base4ball that moves you along."

Pettini then turned coach and manager. He first made manager at short-season Hamilton in 1988., then high-A St. Petersburg in 1990 and AA Arkansas in 1991. He returned to Louisville as manager in 1994 and stayed for three seasons.

He turned minor league field coordinator in 1997. Then, in 2001, he became Cardinals bench coach in St. Louis. He continued in that role for 11 seasons. Most recently, he's credited as serving as bench coach with the Astros in 2012.

In May 2011, he took over the top job on an interim bases after manager Tony La Russa recovered from the shingles.

"To me, it's a blast," Pettini told The Associated Press of filling in, especially during a tough stretch against rival Cincinnati. "It gets a little nerve-racking at times because I haven't been doing it in a while. The St. Louis Cardinals, the Cincinnati Reds, 1-2 in the division: This is baseball. This is competing. It's what it's all about, really."

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:3,972
Made the Majors:1,324-33.3%-X
Never Made Majors:2,648-66.7%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:541
10+ Seasons in the Minors:329

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