Sunday, December 11, 2016

Sure Could Have Fooled Me!

John Paciorek, age 18, went 3-3 on September 29th, 1963. Six years later, he played his final season in the minor leagues. He was only 23 went it was all over.

Paciorek spent most of 1963 in the minors. He didn't do very well. His batting average was just .219 with Modesto of the California League. "A" ball level. But then, he was in the bigs for the last day of the season. Joe delivered big time.

Houston put him in the game in right. They were still, "The Colts" at this point. Their opponents were none other than their fellow expansion pals of the previous season, the New York Mets.

But New York won only 51 games that season, and this final game would be one of their 111 losses. Well, at least they didn't lost 120 like they did in '62. Houston finished the 1963 season with 66 wins, by comparison, although flash-forward 54 years and it's New York with 2 World Series while their counterparts the Astros have none.

So Paciorek walked in the home half of the second inning. Houston had not yet moved to the Astrodome, of course. And only 3,899 fans showed up at Colt Stadium. But they witnessed something incredible.

A two-run triple by catcher John Bateman scored Paciorek and Bob Aspromonte. It was 2-0. In the fourth, a single by Paciorek scored two more. And then he scored himself on a sac fly to make it a 5-4 game for Houston.

The next inning brought more heroics. John singled to score Aspromonte. A walk and a single scored Paciorek to make it 9-4. Soon, it was 11-4 by the end of the frame. The game was Houston's but Paciorek had more in store for the Mets.

The very next inning, he walked. A wild pitch, grounded out and single saw John touch home for the third time in the game. He added a single in the eighth as Houston won 13-4. John finished 3-3, walked twice, scored 4 times and knocked in 3.

Now, for a surprise. That proved to be John Paciorek's final MLB game. So he was a one-game wonder. And quite one at that!

He spent all of the remaining years of his pro careers in the minors. Injuries set in. Not helping was the fact John hit .135, .193 and .104 in the next 3 seasons in the minors, not even playing at all in 1965. Although he caught on with Cleveland in 1968, making it to the spring, he was still in the minors on opening day that season. Paciorek hit 20 home runs, 73 RBIs and hit .268 in 95 games in the minors that year, playing with Reno and Rock Hill. Again, "A" ball level. 1969 was his last season. John hit .213 with Waterbury at "AA" ball. His career was over.

One has to wonder how it all came together for him that one major league game. If Joe couldn't hit minor league pitching, he sure shouldn't have been able to hit MLB hitting. But he sure did. Granted, it was only one appearance, but it would have been interesting to see what another game at big-league level might have brought him. John Paciorek had his day in the sun. One day, and it was a perfect one!

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