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Saturday, August 21, 2021

Kurt Knudsen expressed confidence in high school, went on to see bigs over three seasons

Looking ahead to the 1987 draft, Kurt Knudsen told his hometown Sacramento Bee he just didn't see himself as that good of a pitcher, never mind the scouts saw different.

"I'm confident, but I'm not cocky," Knudsen told The Bee. "I just go out there and my assignment is to throw the ball hard and throw strikes. If I get a strikeout, that's great."

Knudsen got picked that year, but he chose to go to college. He eventually did sign as a pro and his confidence took him all the way to the majors, where he saw time in three big league seasons, all with the Tigers.

Knudsen's career began in 1988, taken by the Tigers in the ninth round of the draft out of the University of Miami.

Knudsen started with the Tigers at single-A Fayetteville, single-A Lakeland and rookie Bristol. He went 3-1 over 21 relief outings, with a 1.14 ERA. 

He played 1989 completely at Lakeland, then split 1990 between high-A Lakeland and AA London. He made AAA Toledo for 12 games in 1991, then in May 1992, got his call up to Detroit.

Two months in, Knudsen took the mound for the Tigers at Oakland, with family and friends present. He told The Detroit Free Press that was when he knew he would feel like a major leaguer. He rewarded them by notching a save.

"I was even more pumped than normal," Knudsen told The Free Press.

Knudsen got into 48 games for the Tigers that year. He went 2-3, with five saves and had a 4.58 ERA. He t hen returned for another 30 games in 1993, going 3-2, with a 4.78 ERA.

He ran into some trouble in July 1993, enough for talk that he'd be sent down. Tigers GM Jerry Walker spoke to The Free Press about Knudsen's issues.

"He's making some good pitches, and then coming back with a next pitch that's very hittable because it's up in the strike zone or over the middle part of the plate," Walker told The Free Press. "He's not getting away with it."

He saw four more outings with the Tigers in 1994 to end his major league career. But he continued to play until 1997, going through the Giants system in 1995, independent Sonoma County in 1996 and  the Angels system in 1997 to end his career.

In March 1998, he spoke to The Bee about his prospects in baseball and his plans for once it was over - to become a police officer.

"If I got the right offer, I'd take it in a heartbeat," Knudsen told The Bee then. "But I've got a young daughter now, and I've realized there is more to life than baseball."

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:3,721
Made the Majors:1,262-33.9%-X
Never Made Majors:2,459-66.1%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:522
10+ Seasons in the Minors:309

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