The Top 10 CNY Sports Stories EVER! Remember Mark Lemke?
I started collecting baseball cards as a boy and kept getting a card by this Mark Lemke guy whenever I eagerly opened pack after pack of '89 Donruss... Little did I know at the time that he was a hometown boy and it figures that I caught him at the end of his career already, but here's the skinny on this Utica native!
Mark Lemke or the "Lemmer" as he is affectionately called was born here 47 years ago and maybe his parents looked in his crib and thought, "there goes our little future major leaguer" or maybe that became more apparent as he got older, but whether they predicted it or not, he ended up a pro player nonetheless. But before his career kicked into high gear he had to get through his formative years at the old Sacred Heart Elementary School and do a stint at Notre Dame High School as a teen (insert cheer from the juggler alumni here) before the Atlanta Braves drafted him.
At 18 years old, fresh out of high school Mark was drafted in the 27th round by the Braves and decided to skip college (passing by prestigious Purdue University) going instead for a more desirable four-year education with the Braves minor league system.
That all paid off on September 17th, 1988 when he finally set foot on his first major league field as second-baseman for the Braves when they went up against the San Diego Padres for a double-header. The Braves lost that game, but Mark was one of four runs to cross the plate... I'll bet that felt good for the rookie!
That game kicked off an eleven year career for Mark in the majors, almost all of which he spent with the Braves before playing his final year and last game with the Red Sox in May of 1998.
Here are some of his highlights:
If you remember the 1991 World Series against the Minnesota Twins, both teams had come from dead last in the league the year before (the Braves being the worst) to playing the biggest dance of the sport only a year later. Mark went from hitting so-so through the regular season to slapping three triples, one of which was at the end of Game 3 which led to him crossing the plate for the win moments later.
Mark is also known for an interesting all-time record. He appeared at the plate 3664 times and was never, ever hit by a pitch. Guess he never made nanny-nanny-boo-boo faces at the pitcher!
Well, after the majors he tried out a life-long dream of his to be a knuckleball pitcher but much to his dismay ended up washing out pretty quickly and has now found his niche as a radio/TV announcer for his longtime team, the Braves... how fitting! His career ended but he's still very involved with games and remains a fixture in Atlanta. Hey, if he ever moves back to Utica, I'm sure he'd have a job announcing sports here, much less coaching! Way to go, Mark!