The Greatest Disappointment

The legendary Brad Komminsk never panned out. Atlanta made him the fourth player chosen in the 1979 draft, but he toiled in the minors much longer than most first-rounders. He eventually reached the majors, where he struggled for three years before the Braves cut bait in 1987. Komminsk played parts of the next four seasons with five different teams before retiring in 1991.

In the 23rd round of the same 1979 draft, Atlanta chose Brett Butler, who also played briefly in Durham. Potential is notoriously much harder to judge in baseball than in other sports: Butler was a superior big-league leadoff hitter for a decade; Komminsk, according to the very elly baseballlibrary.com, "was the Braves' greatest disappointment of the 1980s." (For their part, the kind folks over at baseball-reference.com divulge that in 1990 Komminsk earned $170,000 playing for the Cleveland Indians.) Komminsk now manages the Akron Aeros, Cleveland's AA affiliate. He was born in 1961 in Lima, Ohio: it appears that he, too, has gone Home Again. (Well, nearly home: Akron and Lima are about 150 miles apart.) Perhaps he was no disappoinment after all, but simply destined for something other than stardom: in 2002, his first year helming the Aeros, Komminsk was named Eastern League Manager of the Year; under his leadership, the Aeros earned the Minor League Team of the Year award from Baseball America, a prominent authority on minor league baseball whose offices happen to be located in Durham, North Carolina -- about a mile from my apartment.

The internet suggests that Mike Nipper now works as a hitting instructor for a private baseball clinic called "The Yard" in Knoxville, Tennessee, his home state. He played college ball for East Tennessee State University, which is near Knoxville. A web search unearthed a phone number for Nip. I'm tempted to call him at (865) 688-7804, ask if he's happy back Home Again, and find out whether he's still in touch with his rumored former gay lover, Flavio Alfaro; but I doubt he remembers me and I wouldn't want to creep him out.

In 1982, the Atlanta Braves drafted Johnny Hatcher out of Yavapai Junior College in Prescott, Arizona. The bio of Johnny's big-league brother Billy tells us that he was born in Williams, Arizona, which is 70 miles from Prescott. So I'm fairly certain that the Johnny Hatcher listed as the baseball coach at Williams High School is the same one who did-but-didn't catch that long drive to right-centerfield, and prolonged extra innings of the Most Exciting Game I Ever Saw. Maybe someday, after I've had a couple of drinks and there's nothing else on my docket, I will call him at work -- his personal extension, says the Williams High School web site, is (928) 635-4474 -- and find out for sure. I should probably decide in advance whether to ask him if he really caught that fly ball. Meanwhile, Johnny Hatcher, too, has gone Home Again.

Andy Young joined his mentor Steve Pratt in Maine in 1995, and they broadcast Portland Sea Dogs games together for seven years. (I wonder if they ever talked about me.) In 2002 Andy resigned, citing the needs of his young family. I find no trace of him since. Steve, as I wrote last week, still calls Sea Dogs' games. Amazingly, I found a photo of the two of them taken by a fan who lives, even more amazingly, in Australia.

The internet is mute on the current doings of Mike Yastrzemski, son of Boston Red Sox great Carl. But I'll bet that the 'Mike Yastrzemski' who led the Andover (Massachusetts) Nationals in hitting with an unheard-of .646 batting average in 2001, and who went one-for-two in a recent loss to Lupien in the District 14 Little League Double Elimination tournament, has a "Jr." appended to his name. So the Yaz family business survives, for now...

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Steve Pratt and Andy Young