August 04, 2009

3rd Indian baseball player in majors

Perseverance pays off for Florida Marlins reliever Brian Sanches

His heritage and stats are noteworthy, but Brian Sanches probably is most proud of the determination it took to reach the majors.

By Clark SpencerThe only American Indian in the National League has the lowest ERA in the majors.

Marlins reliever Brian Sanches is proud of his heritage and pleased with his success. But what's even more gratifying to him has been his perseverance, reaching the majors when there were many times he wanted to give up.

"There were countless times where I thought enough was enough, how much can a person take of this?" said Sanches, who turns 31 on Saturday and spent most of his professional career bouncing around the minors. "But I'd step back and regroup and keep inching along."

Perhaps it's in his blood.

Sanches is believed to be one of only three players in the majors classified as American Indian. The others are Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury and the New York Yankees' Joba Chamberlain.

Sanches, who hails from Texas, is part of the small and obscure Caddo tribe.

He has dressed up in tribal costume for annual pow-wows and proudly checks the box on registration forms proclaiming him as American Indian.

Not Hall-Bound

The Baseball Almanac lists 50 full-blooded American Indian players who have played in the majors over the years. Seven of them are nicknamed "Chief." Two of them--Chief Bender and Zack Wheat--are in the Hall of Fame.

It's safe to say that Sanches probably won't be headed for the Hall when his career is finished. He didn't reach the majors until he was 26 and has only four victories.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Movies.

Below:  "The Florida Marlins' Brian Sanches pitches in the ninth inning in a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Land Shark Stadium in Miami Gardens, Monday, June 1, 2009. Sanches' 0.95 ERA is the lowest among all major-league pitchers with at least 25 innings thrown this season." (Joe Rimkus Jr./Staff Photo)


winterfoxf said...

They forgot Kyle Lohse (Nomlaki) of the St. Lewis Cardinals.

Rob said...

It's St. Louis, not St. Lewis. ;-)

Someone else mentioned Lohse too. I hadn't heard of him. Here's what Wikipedia says:

Lohse is a member of the Nomlaki nation. As of 2008, he is one of only three active non-Hispanic Native American players in Major League Baseball, with the others being Jacoby Ellsbury of the Boston Red Sox, and Joba Chamberlain of the New York Yankees.