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Saturday, February 6, 2010

Joe Xavier, X Man - 32

 The Greatest 21 Days caught up with Joe Xavier in July 2012, read the two-part interview: Joe Xavier, First Love

Also check out the revisited Joe Xavier research-based feature from July 2011: Joe Xavier, Made Them Go

In the weeks that I've been writing this blog, I've tried to share more about these players than their name and their photo, finding an interesting story or two.

But with today's player, it's difficult to get beyond his name. And it's not just me. Ask Baseball America.

Joe Xavier was drafted in the 13th round in 1985 out of Fresno State by the Athletics.
He made it to AA Huntsville in 1987, then AAA Tacoma in 1988. By 1989, he was with the Brewers' system playing in Denver. He got off to a hot start that year, going 9 for 22.

"He's done an outstanding job in his role," Zephyrs manager Dave Machemer said in the Milwaukee Journal in April 1989. "When he's in there, he seems to make us go."

Xavier was only one step away from the majors and people were starting to notice and not necessarily for his play on the field.

It was his last name: Xavier. No major league player up to that point had ever had a last name that began with X. Xavier was bidding to be the first.

Baseball America even had a running feature on its back page charting Xavier's progress to the majors.

Xavier took it in stride, even after he was let go by the Brewers by July 1990. He was picked up by the Braves' system. Xavier was also the nephew of Braves manager Bobby Cox.

"Just because my name starts with X isn't going to get me there," Xavier told Sports Illustrated that July. "But it would be great to be the first X in the big leagues."

Xavier played out 1990 with the Braves' AA team in Greenville, ending his career short of the majors.

He's still the only minor leaguer listed with a last name starting with X. The major league list remains as long as it did before.

1990 CMC Tally
Cards Reviewed: 41/880 - 4.7%
Major Leaguers: 23 - 56%
Never Made the Majors: 18 - 44%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 8
10+ Seasons in the Minors: 15


  1. I have thought of Joe Xavier for the past 26 years of my life. I lived in Pocatello, ID, when I was a kid. My dad would always bring me down to the Pocatello Gems games. As a 7 or 8 year old, I loved it.

    Idaho didn't have any Major League teams, and this the closest to it. I was in the left field metal bleachers one game when a high foul ball came my way. It landed right between me and my dad, and dropped down under the bleachers. And so did I. I fought off many 6, 7 and 8-year-olds for it. As I climbed back up, with ball in hand, I asked my dad who hit it. He said, "Joe Xavier." My favorite player.

    After the game, my dad brought me by the dugout to get my ball autographed. On my shelf today, I have my Joe Xavier autographed ball — and two broken Pocatello Gems bats — reminding me of what real baseball is.

    Joe, if you're out there, and reading this, thanks for the memories. This 34-year-old refuses to grow up.

    -A. Reynolds


  2. It's very cool to read your story. I just got done play golf with Joe for an ALS tournament. he's a good person and friend