Friday, April 30, 2010
#501) ROBERTO PETAGINE
Roberto Petagine was traded by the San Diego Padres along with Scott Adair to the New York Mets in exchange for Pete Walker and Luis Arroyo on March 17, 1996. The slugger from Venezuela made his Mets' debut at Shea Stadium on May 31, 1996. He had been acquired to provide insurance for Rico Brogna at first base, and it was indeed a shoulder injury to him that caused Roberto's promotion.
Petagine struggled to consistently hit major-league pitching, but exhibited a fine glove at first base. He would not deliver his first home run until August 24th as a pinch-hitter facing the Dodgers in Los Angeles. In a total of 50 games during the 1996 season he would hit four home runs, with 17 RBIs, and a .232 batting average. Nothing close to his numbers facing minor-league pitching in Triple-A. So he would return to the Norfolk Tides for the 1997 campaign. Petagine responded with an International League MVP season that year. Even so, the Mets had little need for him with John Olerud playing first base. Roberto did receive a promotion to New York when the rosters expanded, but could only muster one hit in 15 at-bats during the month of September.
He was traded to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for Yuri Sanchez on February 5, 1998. When assigned to Triple-A Indianapolis he would win his second consecutive International League MVP award in 1998. Roberto was inducted into the International League Hall of Fame in 2009.
The path of Petagine's baseball career has taken him to the Japanese, Mexican, and Korean professional leagues. During six years playing in Japan's Central League, the left-hander won three gold gloves, two home run titles and one MVP award. All earning him great notoriety in that country. Japanese is one of four languages that Roberto is fluent in. The others being Italian, English, and his native Spanish. "I was here doing it in the minor leagues, but they didn't give me a chance to play every day in the big leagues," Petagine reflected. "Japan was a good opportunity to do it. And I put up numbers there."
Roberto Petagine signed his card in the set for me from an autograph request sent to his home on April 29, 2010.