NewsFormer MVNU Standout Makes Major League Debut
written by Dave Parsons, Sports Information Director
MOUNT VERNON, Ohio - Marty McLeary, a former standout pitcher at Mount Vernon Nazarene University, got the call that every baseball player dreams of on Saturday night when the San Diego Padres called him up from Triple-A Portland.
McLeary, who is in his eighth season of professional baseball after being drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 10th round of the amateur draft in 1997, wasted little time in making his Major League debut as he arrived in San Diego in time to pitch the final two innings of the Padres’ 8-3 loss to the Florida Marlins on Sunday afternoon. The right-hander allowed two hits and a run in his first outing, but he did retire the final five batters he faced including pitching a perfect ninth inning. He also struck out Mike Lowell, a three-time All-Star, swinging to close out the eighth inning.
"I am so happy for Marty that he has finally gotten a shot,” said MVNU head coach Keith Veale. "He has worked hard for this opportunity and has persevered to get to this point. He is a great representative of our program, and we wish him all the best.”
McLeary had appeared in 40 games with the Triple-A Portland Beavers this season and had posted a 4-4 record with 13 saves and a 3.18 earned run average. In 79 1/3 innings of work, he struck out 78 batters while issuing just 39 walks. He pitched a scoreless 2/3 of an inning in the Triple-A All-Star game in July, and he was named the Pacific Coast League’s Rolaids Relief Man for the month of July after posting eight saves and one relief win for the month. Earlier this year on June 27, McLeary also hit his first career home run against the Edmonton Trappers.
The Padres are currently seven games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West and 2 1/2 games behind the San Francisco Giants in the race for the National League Wild Card. San Diego begins a critical 10-game road trip today in New York with four games against the Mets, three games in Montreal, and three games in St. Louis.
"We just thought like we needed 12 pitchers going on this road trip,” San Diego manager Bruce Bochy said. "We just felt like we needed another pitcher, and McLeary is going to give us some innings. He’s been throwing well. He’s a right-hander and has good stuff. He’s some insurance down there in the bullpen.”
"I’m just passionate about the game,” McLeary said after being called up. "I’ll go out there and compete and try to battle as long and as far as I can and see what happens.”
In eight seasons of minor league baseball, McLeary has posted a career record of 33-45 with 23 saves and a 4.06 ERA in 289 games (54 starts). After spending six years in the Boston organization, he signed with Florida in 2003 and pitched primarily at Triple-A Albuquerque. The Padres obtained McLeary on April 8, 2004, in a trade with Florida for right-handed pitcher Bryan Gaal.
During his three seasons at MVNU from 1995-1997, the former Mansfield Christian High School graduate posted a 26-2 overall record with five shutouts and 187 strikeouts in 206 2/3 innings as he led the Cougars to three straight Mid-Ohio Conference titles and an unprecedented three consecutive National Christian College Athletic Association national championships. He was named an NAIA Second Team All-American in 1997 as he led MVNU to its first NAIA World Series appearance, and he still holds the school record for lowest career ERA at 2.35.
McLeary becomes the second MVNU player to reach the Major League level as he joins Tim Belcher, the former #1 overall pick in the 1983 draft, who played 14 seasons with seven different Major League teams. Eleven other Cougars have been drafted with John Boker (Independent League), Dave Byard (New York Mets - Single-A), and Adam Rowe (Kansas City Royals - Rookie League) still active.
"It hasn't really sunk in yet," said McLeary of the whirlwind of events surrounding his call-up, appearance in San Diego, and then trip across country to New York. "It is an incredible answer to prayer to finally have this opportunity."
"I also appreciate all of the support that I've received along the way," added McLeary as he was diligently returning the numerous phone calls that he was receiving. "Sometimes when you are far away from everyone it is hard to imagine how many people are pulling for you. In the time it took (the Padres) to fly to New York, I already had 27 messages on my phone. This has just been a dream come true."