As the book closes on Jose Offerman’s professional baseball career following his bat-laden assault (second-degree) on Bridgeport Bluefish pitcher Matt Beech and catcher John Nathans, I thought we’d look back on a moment of his I’ll always remember.
The Philadelphia Phillies were in Chicago for a three-game series with the Cubs, and the first game was a match up between the late Cory Lidle and the oft-injured Mark Prior. Both pitchers threw gems. Lidle gave up one run on four hits and two walks in seven and one-third innings; Prior mirrored Lidle in eight innings, but struck out ten Phillies.
It was a battle of the bullpens when Lidle left in the eighth inning after allowing a single and a sacrifice bunt. Rheal Cormier got the second out of the inning, but blew the lead by serving a two-run homerun to first baseman Derrek Lee to bring the score to 2-1.
That brought in LaTroy Hawkins to try to put the final three nails in the Phillies coffin in the top of the ninth. He promptly allowed singles to Pat Burrell and David Bell to lead off the inning, but struck out Rookie of the Year Ryan Howard. That brought up the then-sane Jose Offerman, who drew a six-pitch walk to load the bases.
The next hitter, Placido Polanco, then did what he does best — he hit a line drive right back to Hawkins, who caught it in the webbing of his glove. He turned towards first base to see if Offerman was back to the first base bag, and to his delight, he wasn’t, so he quickly threw to Derrek Lee to get the double play.
The ball hit Offerman in the helmet and ricocheted into the stands, allowing both Burrell and Bell to score the tying and go-ahead runs, respectively. Offerman went to third, and instead of sending up a pinch-hitter in a last-ditch effort to score a run, the Phillies allowed closer Billy Wagner to hit for himself after he came in to get the final out of the eighth inning following Lee’s homerun. Wagner cinched the deal in the bottom half of the inning and the Phillies emerged with one of the flukiest wins I have ever seen.
That was the only bright spot Offerman had while with the Phillies, as they designated him for assignment two weeks following that game, and he joined the New York Mets, where he never found success, either. 2005 was his last year in Major League Baseball and he has been fighting to get back ever since.
Jose didn’t have a great career — two good seasons in 1995 and ’98 — but he did provide one memorable moment and I’m glad it was in a Phillies uniform. And he can join the list of malcontent Phillies that includes such luminaries as Ugueth Urbina (attempted murder), Brett Myers (domestic violence), Jason Michaels (punched a cop), and Cole Hamels (bar fighting).
No one will match Darren Daulton, however. Not even Jose Offerman.