Today bears sad news as Royal outfielder Mitch Maier has been designated for assignment. Mitch was a former first round pick who has had a relatively long career as a player who never became a full-time starter in the major leagues. Mitchell William Maier was born June 30, 1982 in Petoskey, Michigan.
Petoskey is a coastal resort community with over 6,000 citizens. The city is also home to Nick Adams in a series of Hemingway books. (Hemingway spent his summers in the area.) Mitch joins Hal Smith, who portrayed the drunk man on the Andy Griffith Show, as men who rose from Petoskey to become national legends. Mitchell was a young man who had a talent for hitting baseballs. He terrorized all of Michigan before going to Toledo to become a Rocket. Mitch, deciding that being God of baseball in one state wasn't enough, brought his bat and soul to Toledo. Here is an excerpt from Toledo University Athletics official web site.
A three-time, first-team All-MAC selection, Mitch Maier ranks as one of the greatest hitters in UT history. His name can be found in the top 10 in nine offense season categories and seven career ones. He ranks first in career batting average (.414) and RBI (147); second in career total bases (370) and hits (238); third in career doubles (42); fourth in runs scored (152); and tied for fourth in home runs (26). He also ranks No. 1 in two season categories: batting average (.448) and stolen bases (29). Maier began his career by earning MAC Freshman of the Year and Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America honors in 2001, and finished it in 2003 by being selected to numerous All-America teams, including first-team All-American by Baseball America, second-team All-America by CollegeBaseballInsider.com, andCollegiate Baseball magazine.
Maier was a projected first round pick and was picked 30th overall in the 2003 MLB Draft. A fun anecdote Lee Judge once told me is that when Mitch found out he was picked by the Royals he blamed God and became an Atheist, something he still carries with him today. Mitch was drafted as a catcher and would eventually become an outfielder later in his minor league career. Maier started his career batting .350 with a .910 OPS in his first 51 games in the Arizona Rookie league. He followed that up with successful seasons with all of the Royals affiliates. Mitch debuted in 2006 getting 2 hits in only 15 AB. He then came up again in 2008 sporting #35.
It was later revealed that Eric Hosmer chose the number as a tribute to his fallen teammate. Mitch got his first big chance for the Royals in 2009. He played in 127 games hitting a disappointing .243 with only 3 homers. The next year he played 117 games hitting .263 with 5 ding dongs including a glorious hammer in Seattle that made Ryan shit his pants, a game Casey Kotchman also homered in. Entering 2011 Mitch had a diminished role with Alex Gordon moving to LF, Shitpants Cabrera going to CF, and Abraham Lincoln in RF. Mitch had not satisfied Royals brass and had assumed the role of 4th OF. He batted .232 in 45 games and did not hang dong once.
One particular moment involving Mitch endeared him to Royals fans forever. Mitch pitched a scoreless inning on July 26 against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. Maier was the only player to not allow a run as the Sox scored 13 on collective suckiness by Danny Duffy, Blake Wood, Nathan Adcock, and even Timmy Jimmy Collins. After this game Mitch became a folk hero at Royals Review and we will never forget him. In 2012 he played 35 games and batted .172. He had two dongs but even that was not enough as eventually a man named Booshwaw remained on the roster ahed of him.
Today is a sad day for all Royal fans and we will always remember Mitchell. We can reflect on all his letters from camp, his enthusiasm, and his duping of umpires in Pittsburgh. Maybe he will clear waivers and will put on a Royal uniform again, but if not we salute you Mitchell William Maier.