Farewell Pat the Bat

When it made contact, Pat Burrell had one of the prettiest swings in Phillies history.

After JD Drew was drafted by the Phillies and refused to sign, the organization and the fans wanted to put the ordeal behind them.

Pat Burrell made them forget.

After 12 seasons in the major leagues, the longtime Phillies slugger decided to hang up his spikes.

It was a tumultuous relationship for Burrell and the city of Philadelphia at times. Fans got on the former Phillies left-fielder for his countless strikeouts.

But his record seemed to be expunged when he stroked that beautiful double off the wall in part two of Game 5 of the 2008 World Series.

He proceeded to be the frontman of the Phillies World Series parade down Broad Street. Burrell sat front and center travelling by clydesdales with his beloved dog Elvis.

Despite his love-hate relationship with the fans, Burrell’s legacy will be that of a heroic nature. Here was a guy who gave everything he had on the field and didn’t cause trouble off of it.

It didn’t end the way fans would’ve liked as Burrell signed with the Tampa Bay Rays following the 2008 season. He was to be the Rays’ designated hitter.

The Phillies didn’t seem interested in re-signing Burrell and signed Raul Ibanez to a three-year contract which signaled the end of Pat the Bat’s time in the City of Brotherly Love.

He didn’t have as big an impact as the Rays would’ve liked as he set career lows in hits, walks, home runs and RBIs. He only hit .221 in 122 games.

In May 2010, Burrell was designated for assignment by the Rays and eventually became a free agent.

The former Hurricane ended up signing with the San Francisco Giants and played a huge role in their 2010 World Series title which personally stung Phillies fans.

He hit .266 and had 18 home runs and 51 RBIs in 289 plate appearances through the second half of the season.

Burrell’s career with the Phillies began in 1998 when he was drafted #1 overall out of the University of Miami. Other notable first round selection that year include JD Drew, Brad Lidge, and Aaron Rowand.

He made his Major League debut in May of 2000 and finished with a very remarkable season. The California kid ended up hitting .260 with 18 long balls and knocked in 79 runs. He also finished fourth in the National League Rookie of the Year vote.

Beer in hand, Pat Burrell celebrates the second of two World Championships with the San Francisco Giants. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

It was clear that Burrell would be a firm power hitter in the Phillies lineup for years to come.

Many Phillies fans forget that he started out as a first baseman. He played his rookie year at first base when he replaced Kevin Jordan. Jordan was replacing the injured Rico Brogna at the time.

In nine seasons in Philadelphia, Burrell hit .257 and mashed 251 home runs and 827 RBIs.

But one of the things that Burrell will be remembered most for is being a New York Met killer. It seemed like Burrell stepped up his game to another level when the Phillies faced their New York rivals, especially when he called former Phillies closer Billy Wagner a rat.

He hit 42 career home runs against the Mets which was the highest total that Burrell hit against any team.

Burrell will be remembered as a hero in the eyes of Phillies fans. He was responsible for the winning run that iced the World Series championship in 2008. People will never forget that.

The greatest joy that this era of Phillies fans was that October night in 2008. When Harry Kalas said “Swing and a miss. Struck him out. The Philadelphia Phillies are 2008 world champions of baseball!”

Burrell will be forever tied to 2008 and that will be part of his legacy. People will forget the strikeouts, the errors, and everything else that troubled him during his tenure in Philadelphia.

Thanks for everything Pat!

—-

Our very own John Shields wrote up a farewell on his site “State of the Philies”:

It wasn’t always pretty, as his running motion (all movement and no forward progress) would bring a smile to my face even on the simplest of grounders. However, you could not fault him for not trying. Burrell had one of the strongest work ethics on the team and that was admirable in itself. He wasn’t the fastest player nor the best fielder, but he would always give it 100% every single time out there. At least, that’s how I perceived it.

While the fielding at times was sketchy, there was no doubt that Burrell’s power at the plate would be there. He ended his Philly career with 251 homers, currently 4th all time in Phillies’ history, and delivered some memorable home runs. From his first career home run off of Scott Elarton down in Houston, to his walk off home run against Brian Wilson during the 2008 season punctuated by his almost homer during Game 5 of the 2008 World Series, in what turned out to be his final at-bat as a Philadelphia Phillie’ the biggest hit of his career.

Read the rest here.

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