Friday, February 13, 2009

Major League Olympians

America's national pastime, baseball grew in popularity around the world throughout the 20th century. As a result of its growing popularity, baseball was intermittently included in the Olympics, not as a medal sport, but instead as a demonstration sport. The first time baseball was played at the Olympics was at the 1912 Stockholm Games. The game was demonstrated again in 1936, 1956, 1964, 1984, and 1988. After being demonstrated more than any other sport, baseball was finally added to the Olympics as a medal sport starting in 1992. Unfortunately, after less than two decades, the International Olympic Committee judged baseball no longer worthy of being part of the Olympic Games because of, among other reasons, the lack of major league players leaving their teams in the middle of the season and the relatively small number of nations that competed internationally. At this moment, baseball is no longer an Olympic sport and the South Korean team received the last gold medals awarded.

Though baseball was part of only five Olympic Games, a surprising number of major league players participated for their countries. Many of these players appeared in the Olympics prior to appearing in the majors, but a few appeared after the end of their major league career. A couple even appeared between stints in the major leagues. All told, 140 major leaguers also competed for medals at the Olympics. More players will join the list as 2008 Olympians make their way into the majors. I realize it's staggering, but I've listed all 140 MLB Olympians below.

MLB Players Who Played Olympic Baseball

CountNameOlympic TeamMLB CareerTeams
1Brent Abernathy 2000 USA 2001-2005TBD, KCR, MIN
2Willie Adams 1992 USA 1996-1997OAK
3Kurt Ainsworth 2000 USA 2001-2004SFG, BAL
4Chad Allen 1996 USA 1999-2005MIN, CLE, FLA, TEX
5Rolando Arrojo 1992 Cuba 1998-2002TBD, COL, BOS
6Wladimir Balentien 2004 Netherlands 2007-2008SEA
7Grant Balfour 2000 Australia 2001-2008MIN, MIL, TBD
8Brian Barden 2008 USA 2007-2008ARI, STL
9Cley Bellinger 2004 Greece 1999-2002NYY, ANA
10Shayne Bennett 2000 Australia 1997-1999MON
11Kris Benson 1996 USA 1999-2006PIT, NYM, BAL
12Jung Bong 2008 South Korea 2002-2004ATL, CIN
13Pat Borders 2000 USA 1988-2005TOR, KCR, HOU
14Matthew Brown 2008 USA 2007-2008LAA
15Sean Burroughs 2000 USA 2002-2006SDP, TBD
16Chin-Feng Chen 2004/2008 Taiwan 2002-2005LAD
17Stubby Clapp 2004/2008 Canada 2001STL
18Ivanon Coffie 2004 Netherlands 2000BAL
19Jose Contreras 1996/2000 Cuba 2003-2008NYY, CHW
20Rheal Cormier 2008 Canada 1991-2007STL, BOS, MON
21Eric Cyr 2004 Canada 2002SDP
22David Davidson 2008 Canada 2007PIT
23Gookie Dawkins 2000 USA 1999-2003CIN, KCR
24Yurendell DeCaster 2004/2008 Netherlands 2006PIT
25R.A. Dickey 1996 USA 2001-2008TEX, SEA
26Jason Dickson 2004 Canada 1996-2000CAL/ANA
27Darren Dreifort 1992 USA 1994-2004LAD
28Rob Ducey 2004 Canada 1987-2001TOR, CAL, TEX, SEA
29Robert Eenhoorn 2000 Netherlands 1994-1997NYY, CAL
30Mark Ettles 2000 Australia 1993SDP
31Adam Everett 2000 USA 2001-2008HOU, MIN
32Rikkert Faneyte 2000 Netherlands 1993-1996SFG, TEX
33Oswaldo Fernandez 1992 Cuba 1996-2001SFG, CIN
34Dexter Fowler 2008 USA 2008COL
35Ryan Franklin 2000 USA 1999-2008SEA, PHI, CIN, STL
36Kosuke Fukudome 1996/2004 Japan 2008CHC
37John Gall 2008 USA 2005-2007STL, FLA
38Nomar Garciaparra 1992 USA 1996-2008BOS, CHC, LAD
39Chris George 2000 USA 2001-2004KCR
40Jason Giambi 1992 USA 1995-2008OAK, NYY
41Troy Glaus 1996 USA 1998-2008ANA, ARI, TOR, STL
42Steve Green 2008 Canada 2001ANA
43Rick Greene 1992 USA 1999CIN
44Seth Greisinger 1996 USA 1998-2005DET, MIN, ATL
45Jeffrey Hammonds 1992 USA 1993-2005BAL, CIN, COL
46Rick Helling 1992 USA 1994-2006TEX, FLA, ARI
47Orlando Hernandez 1992 Cuba 1998-2007NYY, CHW, ARI, NYM
48Mike Hessman 2008 USA 2003-2008ATL, DET
49Shawn Hill 2004 Canada 2004-2008MON/WSN
50A.J. Hinch 1996 USA 1998-2004OAK, KCR, DET, PHI
51Mark Hutton 2000 Australia 1993-1998NYY, FLA, COL, CIN
52Tadahito Iguchi 1996 Japan 2005-2008CHW, PHI, SDP
53Marcus Jensen 2000 USA 1996-2002SFG, DET, MIL, STL
54Kevin Jepsen 2008 USA 2008LAA
55Kenji Johjima 2004 Japan 2006-2008SEA
56Charles Johnson 1992 USA 1994-2005FLA, LAD, BAL
57Mike Johnson 2004/2008 Canada 1997-2001BAL, MON
58Jacque Jones 1996 USA 1999-2008MIN, CHC, DET, FLA
59Gene Kingsale 2004/2008 Netherlands 1996-2003BAL, SEA, SDP, DET
60Mike Kinkade 2000 USA 1998-2003NYM, BAL, LAD
61Danny Klassen 2004 Canada 1998-2003ARI, DET
62Brandon Knight 2008 USA 2001-2008NYY, NYM
63Masahide Kobayashi 2004 Japan 2008CLE
64Billy Koch 1996 USA 1999-2004TOR, OAK, CHW, FLA
65Mike Koplove 2008 USA 2001-2007ARI, CLE
66Mark Kotsay 1996 USA 1997-2008FLA, SDP, OAK
67George Kottaras 2004 Greece 2008BOS
68Rick Krivda 2000 USA 1995-1998BAL, CLE, CIN
69Hiroki Kuroda 2004 Japan 2008LAD
70Pete LaForest 2004 Canada 2003-2007TBD, SDP, PHI
71Matt LeCroy 1996 USA 2000-2007MIN, WSN
72Travis Lee 1996 USA 1998-2006ARI, PHI, TBD, NYY
73Graeme Lloyd 2004 Australia 1993-2003MIL, NYY, TOR, MON
74Braden Looper 1996 USA 1998-2008STL, FLA, NYM
75Calvin Maduro 2004 Netherlands 1996-2002PHI, BAL
76Oswaldo Mairena 1996 Nicaragua 2000-2002CHC, FLA
77Nick Markakis 2004 Greece 2006-2008BAL
78Lou Marson 2008 USA 2008PHI
79Shairon Martis 2008 Netherlands 2008WSN
80Daisuke Matsuzaka 2000/2004 Japan 2007-2008BOS
81Chris Mears 2004 Canada 2003DET
82Hensley Meulens 2000 Netherlands 1989-1998NYY, MON, ARI
83Doug Mientkiewicz 2000 USA 1998-2008MIN, BOS, NYM
84Ralph Milliard 2000/2004 Netherlands 1996-1998FLA, NYM
85Warren Morris 1996 USA 1999-2003PIT, MIN, DET
86Calvin Murray 1992 USA 1999-2004SFG, TEX, CHC
87Aaron Myette 2004 Canada 1999-2004CHW, TEX, CLE, CIN
88Micheal Nakamura 1996/2000 Australia 2003-2004MIN, TOR
89Norihiro Nakamura 2000/2004 Japan 2005LAD
90Blaine Neal 2008 USA 2001-2005FLA, SDP, BOS, COL
91Mike Neill 2000 USA 1998OAK
92Phil Nevin 1992 USA 1995-2006HOU, DET, ANA, SDP
93Kevin Nicholson 2004 Canada 2000SDP
94Dave Nilsson 2000/2004 Australia 1992-1999MIL
95Jayson Nix 2008 USA 2008COL
96Augie Ojeda 1996 USA 2000-2008CHC, MIN, ARI
97Pete Orr 2004 Canada 2005-2008ATL, WSN
98Roy Oswalt 2000 USA 2001-2008HOU
99Chris Oxspring 2004 Australia 2005SDP
100Erik Pappas 2004 Greece 1991-1994CHC, STL
101Jim Parque 1996 USA 1998-2003CHW, TBD
102Simon Pond 2004 Canada 2004TOR
103Ryan Radmanovich 2004/2008 Canada 1998SEA
104Alexei Ramirez 2004 Cuba 2008CHW
105Jon Rauch 2000 USA 2002-2008CHW, MON/WSN, ARI
106Chris Reitsma 2008 Canada 2001-2007CIN, ATL, SEA
107Ryan Rowland-Smith 2004 Australia 2007-2008SEA
108Anthony Sanders 2000 USA 1999-2001TOR, SEA
109Nate Schierholtz 2008 USA 2007-2008SFG
110Bobby Seay 2000 USA 2001-2008TBD, COL, DET
111Ben Sheets 2000 USA 2001-2008MIL
112Jason Simontacchi 2000 Italy 2002-2007STL, WSN
113Chris Snelling 2000 Australia 2002-2008SEA, WSN, OAK, PHI
114Sean Spencer 2004 Greece 1999-2000SEA, MON
115Paul Spoljaric 2004 Canada 1994-2000TOR, SEA, PHI, KCR
116John Stephens 2004 Australia 2002BAL
117Adam Stern 2004/2008 Canada 2005-2007BOS, BAL
118Andy Stewart 2004 Canada 1997KCR
119Phil Stockman 2004 Australia 2006-2008ATL
120R.J. Swindle 2008 Canada 2008PHI
121So Taguchi 2000 Japan 2002-2008STL, PHI
122Taylor Teagarden 2008 USA 2008TEX
123Brad Thomas 2000 Australia 2001-2004MIN
124Rich Thompson 2004 Australia 2007-2008LAA
125Scott Thorman 2008 Canada 2006-2007ATL
126Terry Tiffee 2008 USA 2004-2008MIN, LAD
127Chin-Hui Tsao 2004/2008 Taiwan 2003-2007COL, LAD
128Michael Tucker 1992 USA 1995-2006KCR, ATL, CIN, CHC
129Jason Varitek 1992 USA 1997-2008BOS
130Ron Villone 1992 USA 1995-2008SEA, SDP, MIL, CLE
131Chien-Ming Wang 2004 Taiwan 2005-2008NYY
132Jeff Weaver 1996 USA 1999-2007DET, NYY, LAD
133Brad Wilkerson 2000 USA 2001-2008MON, TEX, SEA, TOR
134Glenn Williams 2000/2004 Australia 2005MIN
135Jeff Williams 1996/2004 Australia 1999-2002LAD
136Todd Williams 2000 USA 1995-2007LAD, CIN, SEA
Craig Wilson
1992 USA
138Ernie Young 2000 USA 1994-2004OAK, KCR, ARI
139Tim Young 2000 USA 1998-2000MON, BOS
140Clint Zavaras 2004 Greece 1989SEA

It's a really long list. The 2004 Greek team, only in the Olympics by virtue of the Games being held in Athens, was made up mainly of Greek-Americans (and at least one Greek-Canadian, Mr. Kottaras). That circumstance gave the last man on the list, Clint Zavaras, a chance to play on the world stage fifteen years after his cup of coffee in the majors.

As expected, the USA laps the field in the number of major league Olympians. Sixty-six of the 140 men listed above played for the United States. The full breakdown looks like this:
  1. USA - 66
  2. Canada - 23
  3. Australia - 16
  4. Japan - 8
  5. Greece - 6
  6. Cuba - 5
  7. Taiwan - 3
  8. Italy - 1
  9. Nicaragua - 1
  10. South Korea - 1
As mentioned, Greece's contingent was made up of players from North America. Italy's sole major leaguer, Jason Simontacchi, was born in California. Oswaldo Mairena is one of only nine major league players born in Nicaragua. South Korea's representative is former Brave and Red Jung Bong.

It's possible I missed someone while going through the rosters for all forty squads to play in the Olympics. If you know of someone who should be on the list but isn't, email me or comment below.


Bopperland said...

Theron, you did use the word "participated". There were others on the teams that had MLB on-field experience. Up here in Canada, for example, we had Ernie Whitt (the former Blue Jay) act as manager for our Olympic team.

Theron Schultz said...

That's true. Davey Johnson managed the USA team. I should have said "played" since I couldn't find lists of all the coaches and others.