On June 23rd through June 26th, the Houston Astros will travel to New York to face the Yankees in a 4 game series at Yankee Stadium. The Houston Astros, barring injury, will most likely feature Classical High School’s Jeremy Peña in the starting lineup, playing shortstop in the majority of the series. The New York Yankees, again barring injury, will utilize Bishop Hendricken High School’s Michael King out of the bullpen, as he has been working out of all season long. Perhaps King would get a start in a bullpen or opener type game in the series, who knows. All I know is that there is a possibility of a pretty rare Rhode Island Baseball occurrence – A Rhode Islander pitching to a Rhode Islander hitting in an official Major League game. How rare you ask? Let me show you, with the help of Baseball Reference and Baseball Almanac:
Here is a list of players from Rhode Island, thanks to Baseball Reference, over the past 40 years or so. Players are listed with their MLB years of service, teams they played for, and leagues they played in. Pitchers are highlighted in bold print:
- Sean Maloney – 1997 AL, Milwaukee Brewers; 1998 NL, Los Angeles Dodgers
- Thomas Pannone – 2018-19, AL, Toronto Blue Jays
- Chris Iannetta – 2006-2011, NL, Colorado Rockies; 2012-2015, AL, Los Angeles Angels; 2016, AL, Seattle Mariners; 2017, NL, Arizona Diamondbacks; 2018-2019, NL Colorado Rockies
- Michael King – 2019 – present, AL, New York Yankees
- Dan Wheeler – 1999-2001, AL, Tampa Bay; 2003-2004 , NL NY Mets; 2004-2007, NL, Houston Astros; 2007-2010, AL, Tampa Bay; 2011, AL, Boston; 2012, AL, Cleveland Indians
- Pat Combs – 1989-1992, NL, Philadelphia Phillies
- Ken Ryan – 1992-1995, AL, Boston Red Sox; 1996-1999, NL, Philadelphia Phillies
- Rocco Baldelli – 2003-2008, AL, Tampa Bay (did not play in 2005); 2009, AL, Boston Red Sox; 2010, AL, Tampa Bay
- Mason Williams – 2015-2017, AL, New York Yankees; 2018, NL, Cincinnati Reds; 2019-2020, AL, Baltimore; 2021, NL, New York Mets
- Jeff Beliveau – 2012, NL, Chicago Cubs; 2013-2015, AL, Tampa Bay; 2017, AL, Toronto Blue Jays; 2018, AL, Cleveland Indians
- Trevor Kelley – 2019, AL, Boston Red Sox; 2020, NL, Philadelphia Phillies
- Jeremy Pena – 2022, AL, Houston Astros
- Rod Correia – 1993-1995, AL, California Angels
- Rick Lancelotti – 1982, NL, San Diego Padres; 1986, NL, San Francisco Giants; 1990, AL, Boston Red Sox
Now, here are the games that a Rhode Island pitcher has played/appeared in the same game as a Rhode Island hitter who was either in the starting lineup or came into the game as a pinch hitter or pinch runner. The box scores on the Baseball Almanac are awesome, however I could not confirm if a Rhode Island Pitcher actually faced a Rhode Island hitter. Just that they were in the same game on the same day. Here is that short list, in no specific order, from the last 40 years of Rhode Island baseball players playing in the Major Leagues:
- Thomas Pannone, Chris Iannetta appeared in the same game – June 2, 2019 – Toronto vs. Colorado; Iannetta went 2-3 with a HR; Pannone pitched 1 IP (8th)
- Dan Wheeler, Chris Iannetta appeared in the same game – June 7, 2007 – Houston vs Colorado; Iannetta went 2-4, RBI; Wheeler got the loss going .1 IP
- Dan Wheeler, Chris Iannetta appeared in the same game – June 28, 2007 – Houston vs Colorado; Iannetta went 2-3, 2RBI; Wheeler 2 IP, 4K’s
- Dan Wheeler, Chris Iannetta appeared in the same game – June 17, 2009 – Tampa Bay vs Colorado; Iannetta went 2-3, RBI; Wheeler 1 IP, 1K
- Ken Ryan, Rod Correira appeared in the same game – July 5, 1993 – Boston Red Sox vs California Angels, Ryan got the Win; Correira pinch ran, scored 1 run
- Rocco Baldelli, Dan Wheeler appeared in the same game – August 5th, 2009 – Boston Red Sox vs Tampa Bay Rays, Wheeler pitched 1 IP; Baldelli went 0-3, 1 run scored
I wanted to highlight one particular game because it took place at Fenway Park, Boston. How cool is this? Two Rhode Islanders playing in the same game, at Fenway Park, just a short drive from their hometowns.
7. Ken Ryan, Rod Correira appeared in the same game – July 20th, 1993 – Boston Red Sox vs California Angels, Ryan pitched 1IP, Correira went 1-3 at Boston’s Fenway Park
So, as you can see, it has only happened 7 times in the last 40 years that a Pitcher from Rhode Island has appeared in the same game as a hitter from Rhode Island and with the possibility of a RI vs RI matchup. And who knows (not me), they may have actually faced each other in the game. Pre-1980’s, there may have been instances where a RI pitcher faced a RI hitter. Dan Wheeler (Pilgrim High School) appeared in several games vs Chris Iannetta (Saint Raphael Academy) over their careers. Wheeler and Rocco Baldelli (Bishop Hendricken High School) played on the same Tampa Bay team for years and then the two opposed each other in a game as Baldelli played one season with the Boston Red Sox. The last time a Rhode Island Pitcher was in the same game as a Rhode Island hitter was Thomas Pannone (Bishop Hendricken High School) vs Iannetta on June 2, 2019.
I think (and hope) there is a strong possibility that 2022 will feature another Rhode Island pitcher vs a Rhode Island hitter when/if New York Yankee Michael King faces Houston Astros Jeremy Peña in June at Yankee Stadium. And there is another possibility that could arise because Thomas Pannone is pitching well for the AAA affiliate Worcester Red Sox and could get called up to the Boston Red Sox this season, who play the Houston Astros later this season. And then, we would have another potential RI vs RI matchup with Pannone vs Peña!
And as a close, if you know Ken Ryan or Chris Iannetta or Dan Wheeler or Thomas Pannone or Rod Correira or Rocco Baldelli, and ask them if they faced a fellow Rhode Islander (on the mound or at the plate), and have a story about it, send them my information so I can write about it!!! Thanks.