Rick Ankiel

Baseball Player

Born: 19 July 1979
Birthplace: Fort Pierce, Florida
Best known as:

The wild-armed St. Louis pitcher who switched to the outfield

Rick Ankiel grabbed public attention in the year 2000 when he lost his ability to throw strikes. A left-handed pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals that year, Rick Ankiel posted a successful 11-7 record during the season. But he suddenly lost control in a playoff game against the Atlanta Braves, throwing pitch after pitch over his catcher's head and into the backstop. With no physical problems evident, most presumed that Ankiel's problems came from a sudden mental quirk. Ankiel returned to the Cardinals as a pitcher in 2001 but his problems resumed, and he was sent to the minor leagues. After further struggles he abandoned pitching in 2005 and switched positions, signing a minor-league contract with the Cardinals as an outfielder. He missed the entire 2006 season with a knee injury, but in August of 2007 he made an auspicious return to the major leagues, hitting a home run in his first game as an outfielder with the Cardinals. He played with the Cardinals through the 2009 season. In 2010 he joined the Kansas City Royals, then was traded to the Atlanta Braves mid-season. With the Braves he had a major playoff moment that year, hitting a game-winning home run to beat the San Francisco Giants in game two of their series. Ankiel joined the Washington Nationals in 2011, playing center and right field for the team.

Extra credit:

Rick Ankiel is not alone in developing sudden throwing problems. Other baseball players who have had similar troubles include second basemen Chuck Knoblauch and Steve Sax and pitcher Steve Blass.

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