MLB players come and go throughout the years. Some leave the game as superstars and future members of the MLB Hall of Fame, while others are answers to trivia questions, if they’re lucky. It’s easy to remember big names such as Barry Bonds, Randy Johnson, and Derek Jeter, but it takes a real baseball aficionado to remember the more obscure players. There are also some very good players who were big in a particular era but faded from the memories of the casual fans. Those are names brought up during spirited conversations in sports pubs and blurted out when the mind retrieves them after a cocktail or two. And others might be more remembered in one city as opposed to others. They may have been that big draft bust in a city in need of a savior or a popular utility player whose exploits only resonate among that player’s fanbase. This list has a little bit of something for whatever type of fan you might be. It might also help you to determine what type of fan you are–a super fan or a casual fan.
How many of these 15 MLB players from the Y2K era do you remember? What type of fan are you? Let’s take a look and find out.
15. Rich Aurilia
There’s a great reason if you don’t remember San Francisco Giants infielder Rich Aurilia. He played in the massive shadow of Barry Bonds for his entire tenure in San Francisco. Aurilia had two stints with the Giants with the fist from 1995 to 2003 and the last being from 2007-2009. He had a career year in 2001, which included a NL leading 206 hits, a career high 37 homeruns, being named to the NL All-Star team, and a Silver Slugger Award. However, this was also the year that Bonds hit a freakish 73 homers. Aurilia also played with the Seattle Mariners (2004), San Diego Padres (2004), and Cincinnati Reds (2005-2006). If you do remember Aurilia then you may not know this little fact about him. Aurilia once appeared on the daytime soap opera, General Hospital, as a juror for the murder trial of Port Charles’ resident gangster, Sonny Corinthos.
14. Doug Mientkiewicz
Doug Mientkiewicz was the guy with the really hard to pronounce last name. He was also the guy that is best known by Red Sox fans as the guy who recorded the final out of the 2004 World Series, which ended Boston’s famed “Curse of the Bambino.” Mientkiewicz began his career in Minnesota in 1998 where he developed a reputation as a solid defensive first baseman (2001 Gold Glove Award) with a gift for annoying his division rivals. He started a bit of a feud with the Chicago White Sox after he said the 2003 MLB All-Star Game to be held at US Cellular Field should be moved due to fan attacks on Umpire Laz Diaz and Kansas City Royals’ first base coach Tom Gamboa. White Sox GM Kenny Willimas responded with, “Doug who? He doesn’t have to worry about making the All-Star game, anyway.” Well, in case you don’t remember, it was Doug Mientkiewicz; that’s who.
13. Paul Wilson
Paul Wilson was the first overall pick of the New York Mets in the 1994 amateur draft. Wilson along with Jason Isringhausen and Bill Pulsipher were known as “Generation K”. However, Wilson never lived up to the lofty expectations and only pitched one season in New York in 1996. He later pitched for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (2000-2002) and Cincinnati Reds (2003-2005). Wilson only broke the ten-win barrier once in his career. In his defense, he had multiple shoulder surgeries, which probably contributed largely to his lack of big league success. However, Wilson might be best known for starting an ugly bench-clearing brawl in 2003 between his Reds and the Chicago Cubs. He took exception to an inside offering by Kyle Farnsworth and made the ill-advised decision to charge the mound. Farnsworth took Wilson down and bloodied him after landing at least one of several wild punches.
12. Travis Lee
Travis Lee was a first baseman who played with the Arizona Diamondbacks (1998-2000), Philadelphia Phillies (2000-2002), Tampa Bay Devil Rays (2003, 2005-2006), and the New York Yankees (2004). Lee was the second overall pick of the Minnesota Twins in the 1996 amateur draft but never played for them. Instead, he debuted as the starting first baseman of the Arizona Diamondbacks in their debut season of 1998. He finished third in the NL Rookie of the Year balloting that year due to his solid offensive numbers, which included 71 runs scored, 22 homers, and 72 RBIs. Lee put up a few more solid statistical seasons but never broke out into super stardom. He was never named to an All-Star team and never played in the post season. However, Lee was once involved in a blockbuster deal that sent him, Omar Daal, Nelson Figueroa, and Vincent Padilla to the Philadelphia Phillies and brought Curt Schilling to the Diamond Backs.
11. Corey Patterson
Corey Patterson was supposed to be a can’t miss prospect selected third overall by the Chicago Cubs in the 1998 amateur draft. Baseball America had him rated as their number two prospect after his second pro season in Double A. The center fielder never lived up to all the hype. After six seasons with the Cubs, he bounced around the league. Patterson played for six different teams from 2006 to 2011. He had flashes of brilliance and talent that made teams want to take a chance on him. Patterson had power, speed, and showed a lot of athleticism in the outfield. However, each and every time, he proved to be just too inconsistent a player to keep around. Patterson probably had his best season in 2004 as a member of the Cubs but could not duplicate that success for the Baltimore Orioles (2006-2007, 2010), Cincinnati Reds (2008), Washington Nationals (2009), Milwaukee Brewers (2009), Toronto Blue Jays (2011), or the St. Louis Cardinals (2011). Fans in these cities that do remember him probably remember him as the guy with a ton of talent who couldn’t quite deliver the goods.
10. Chad Hermansen
Chad Hermansen was an outfielder who was the tenth overall pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1995 amateur draft. Hermansen was being pegged by scouts as a future star due his power and athleticism. However, he never lived up to the high expectations and never became the star the Pirates so desperately needed. Hermansen only played 100 games in a season once, never hit ten home runs in a season, and never batted higher than .233. He played six seasons with the Pirates (1999-2002), Chicago Cubs (2002), Los Angeles Dodgers (2003), and Toronto Blue Jays (2004). Fans might remember a big trade that he was involved in during the 2002 winter meetings. He was traded by the Cubs along with Todd Hundley to the Dodgers for Mark Grudzielanek and Eric Karros.
9. Terrence Long
Terrence Long had a quiet but solid MLB career that lasted seven seasons. Long was the 20th overall pick of the New York Mets in the 1994 amateur draft. After playing only three games in New York, he was traded to the Oakland Athletics where he enjoyed his greatest success. He was runner up in the AL Rookie of the Year balloting in 2000 and played in 162 games in 2001 and 2002. Long appeared in four consecutive ALDS while with the A’s but in losing efforts each time. He also played with the San Diego Padres (2004), Kansas City Royals(2005), and New York Yankees(2006). During the 2001 season, Long made the highlight reel for the wrong reason in a game against the Seattle Mariners. He was victimized by one of Ichiro Suzuki’s famous laser beam throws while trying to go from first to the third on a base hit to right field.
8. John Halama
John Halama was a southpaw starting pitcher who played from 1998 to 2006 for seven different teams. Halama complied his best season as a member of the Seattle Mariners in 2000. He had a record of 14-9 and the Mariners lost to the Yankees in the ALCS. Halama had two no decisions in the series despite pitching very well. Halama became less and less effective following the 2000 season and faded into obscurity following one more trip to the post season in 2001. He bounced around the league after leaving Seattle. Halama played with five different teams over a four years span and could never recapture the success he had in Seattle. It’s easy to forget a somewhat quiet career like Halama’s. However, he was involved in a not so quiet trade in 1998. Halama was traded from the Houston Astros along with Freddy Garcia and Carlos Guillen to Seattle for future MLB Hall of Famer (2015) Randy Johnson.
7. Matt LeCroy
Matt LeCroy was the 50th overall pick of the Minnesota Twins in the 1997 amateur draft. The 6’2 225 pounder was a right-handed power hitting catcher, first baseman, and designated hitter. However, in eight seasons with the Twins (2000-2005,2007) and the Washington Nationals (2006) he never hit 20 home runs in a season and never had more than 65 RBIs in a season. He also only broke the 100 games played barrier twice in 2003 and 2005. LeCroy had a pretty quiet career but is a significant part of a story that both Twins and Boston Red Sox fans may or may not be aware of. It was Lecroy’s potential as a middle of the order power threat that was one of the reasons, which made David Ortiz expendable to the Twins in 2002. Ortiz signed with the Red Sox in 2003 and the rest is history.
6. Ron Mahay
Ron Mahay was a MLB pitcher who began his career for the Boston Red Sox as an outfielder. Mahay was called up by Boston in 1995 as a replacement player during the strike and as a result he was denied membership in the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA). He also pitched for the Oakland Athletics (1999-2000), Florida Marlins (2000), Chicago Cubs (2001-2002), Texas Rangers (2003-2007), Atlanta Braves (2007), Kansas City Royals (2008-2009) and Minnesota Twins (2009-2010). Mahay pitched in the post season one time as a member of the Minnesota Twins in 2009. He appeared in three games of the ALDS, which the Twins lost to the New York Yankees. Mahay might be best remembered for being involved in a huge trade in July 2007 that sent him and Mark Teixeira from the Texas Rangers to the Atlanta Braves for Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Beau Jones.
5. Damian Rolls
Damian Rolls had an extremely forgettable career with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays from 2000 to 2004. He only appeared in 266 games in those five years with 2001 and 2003 being the only years that he topped 80 games. Rolls played a number of different positions as a utility player but just didn’t have the offensive numbers to win a steady starting position with the Rays. Rolls was the 23rd overall pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1996 amateur draft. He was then acquired by the Kansas City Royals in the 1999 Rule 5 draft. The Royals then traded him to the Rays. After being released by the Rays, Rolls briefly played in the New York Yankees (2005-2006) and Chicago White Sox (2006) organizations.
4. Dee Brown
Dee Brown played baseball too? No, the former Boston Celtic and 1991 NBA Slam Dunk Contest winner did not play baseball too. This Dee Brown was the 14th overall pick of the Kansas City Royals in the 1996 amateur draft. The outfielder was another can’t miss prospect due to his combination of power and speed. Brown never turned the great potential into performance in eight big league seasons with the Royals (1998-2004) and the Athletics (2007). He might be one of the biggest busts of the Y2K era. He only played in more than 100 games in a season once, never hit more than ten home runs, and only batted over .250 once. Those who do remember Brown are most likely disgruntled Royals fans of that era.
3. Chin-Feng Chen
Chi-Feng Chen was an outfielder signed as an amateur free agent by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1999. Chen played four quiet seasons for the Dodgers from 2002 to 2005. This was despite Chen absolutely tearing it up in the minor leagues for Class A San Bernadino of the California League. He was the first 30-30 player in league history and as a result was the league’s top prospect. Chen was also named the Dodgers top prospect of 2000 by Baseball America. However, in four seasons with the Dodgers, Chen played in a total of just seven games with only eight plate appearances. He finished with only two career big league hits to his name. Probably, his greatest claim to fame is that he was the first Taiwanese born player to ever play Major League Baseball.
2. Jeff Austin
Jeff Austin was the fourth overall pick by the Kansas City Royals in the 1998 amateur draft. Austin had a very short career that lasted only three seasons. The right-handed pitcher played only two seasons (2001-2002) with the Royals before moving on to play with the Cincinnati Reds in 2003. He didn’t win a game for the team that drafted him and followed that with a record of 2-3 with an 8.58 ERA for the Reds before being released at the beginning of the 2004 season. However, Austin did go out with a bang. If anyone does remember him then it would have to be for a game he pitched against the Atlanta Braves on May 28, 2003. In that game, Austin surrendered three consecutive home runs to start the game.
1. Jim Morris
Jim Morris was an MLB pitcher. I didn’t mean Jack Morris. That Morris was a Tigers legend and four-time World Series Champion. No, I didn’t mean Jim Morrison, either. That guy was the legendary lead singer for The Doors and we’re talking about baseball. Jim Morris was a relief pitcher for the Tampa Bay Devils Rays from 1999 to 2000. Although Morris wasn’t a legend like Jack Morris or Jim Morrison, he did have a movie made about him. Disney’s The Rookie (2002) starring Dennis Quaid was about how Morris went from high school baseball coach to MLB relief pitcher in his mid thirties. Morris’ career with the Rays was a short but sweet inspirational story. If you forgot about Morris then it would be worth checking out the movie to refresh your memory.
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