Monday, June 7, 2010
#527) SHAWN GILBERT
Shawn Gilbert was signed by the New York Mets as a free agent on January 30, 1996. He had been drafted by the Dodgers, Reds, and Twins and played in the White Sox and Phillies organizations before coming to New York. Shawn became the oldest rookie in Mets' history when he made his major-league debut on June 2, 1997 at the age of 32. A wait of 11 seasons and 1,284 minor-league games. "I persevered long enough to fulfill a dream," Gilbert said following his first game. "How long it lasts, I don't know, but it's official now. I'm in the (Baseball) Encyclopedia."
Shawn came to the plate as a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning. Drilling a single to left and later called home to Fresno, California, to tell his wife Diana. "You're batting 1.000." she told him.
Shawn was always described as a "blue-collar guy" and a "good clubhouse presence" on each team he played. The versatile player was promoted at three different times during the 1997 season. Unfortunately he was only able to muster a .136 batting average in the 22 at-bats he received. So most of his time was spent with Triple-A Tidewater.
The Mets brought Gilbert back to New York for only three games the next season. On May 12, 1998 he was designated for assignment when the team was short of catchers and added Rick Wilkins to the roster. When starting shortstop, Rey Ordoñez broke his hand on June 1st, the team declared Shawn his replacement. However, before Gilbert could make his first start he was diagnosed with a staph infection in his right knee. Once recovered, Shawn was shipped to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for Wayne Kirby on June 10th.
"I've had limited opportunities up there, but as small as those opportunities are, I really haven't made the most of them," Gilbert reflected. "So I would say a lot of the blame falls on me. Your window of opportunity is not big sometimes. Sometimes you just have to make the most of that opportunity."
After his active playing career, Shawn became an assistant baseball coach at Fresno Pacific University and an instructor at The Diamond Athlete Academy in Fresno.
Shawn Gilbert signed his card in the set from an autograph request sent to his home on February 3, 2010.