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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Kirk Dressendorfer: The College Sensation

The flashiest team I can remember in the early 1990’s were the Oakland Athletics,  teams full of Bash Brothers and players with flowing mullets and brash attitudes. They were also marked by their composition of many seasoned veterans, making them a difficult team to make for any young player. This is the environment that Kirk Dressendorfer found himself in when he was drafted by the team in the first round of the 1990 MLB draft. 

Slight for a pitcher, the 5-11 right-handed Dressendorfer became a legend with the University of Texas. He went 45-8 in his career, including one season having a record 15 complete games. He was a three-time All-American and All-South West Conference player. His college career was so dominant that he was inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009.

The Oakland Athletics chose Dressendorfer with the 34th overall selection in the 1990 draft. He had previously been picked by the Orioles in 34th round in 1987, but had gone to college instead of starting his professional career. The Athletics gave Dressendorfer only a handful of games in the minors before having him make his Major League debut on April 13, 1991 against the Mariners. He pitched 5.2 innings in that start, beating Rich DeLucia 4-2. Despite giving up a home run to Edgar Martinez, Dressendorfer also struck out Ken Griffey Jr. swinging twice in the game.

The seven starts Dressendorfer made for the Athletics in 1991 represented his entire experience in the Big Leagues. He went 3-3 in that time with a 5.45 ERA. He was never able to get his professional career going because of injuries. He pitched in the minor leagues sporadically for a total of eight seasons (all but his final year with the Oakland organization), before retiring after spending 1997 with the Albuquerque Dukes, the Los Angeles Dodgers Triple-A team. In his minor league career, he appeared in a total of 112 games; 53 of them being starts. He went 5-21 with a 4.80 ERA.  More information on his career statistics is available at .

Dressendorfer was an extremely talented pitcher whose professional career was derailed by injuries. If things had gone as his talent dictated, he would have undoubtedly had a long and notable Major League career. Even so, he has gone on to be a successful business man and has no regrets that things have turned out the way they have. If you can feel that way, it is hard to ask for more.

Kirk Dressendorfer Interview:

How did you first become interested in baseball, especially growing up in Texas where football is king?: My parents got my brother and me into little league at an early age. We grew up playing and loving both baseball and football. I played both sports through high school but had more of an opportunity to extend my playing career in baseball. 

Who was your favorite player growing up and why?: My favorite players growing up were Nolan Ryan and Tom Seaver. My Dad would have me watch them pitch and I would try and copy their mechanics in the backyard. 

What was it like playing at University of Texas?: It was a great experience. Growing up in Texas, UT baseball was like playing for the New York Yankees. UT was and still is an elite college program with a tremendous fan base.  

Who was your favorite coach or manager?: Too difficult to single out one or two…I was fortunate to play for a lot of great coaches/managers throughout the years. I believe that each one of them taught me something new about life and baseball. My Dad was my one consistent coach throughout my career. I was fortunate to play for Tony LaRussa when I was with the A’s. I really enjoyed playing for Tony and wish I could have contributed longer. 

What pitches did you throw?: Fastball, slider, change up and curve ball. 

What was it like being on such a veteran pitching staff in Oakland (Eck, Stewart, Moore, Darling, Welch, Show, etc…)? Were they supportive of you as a rookie?: It was a great experience. You understood pretty quickly why these guys were so successful. They really worked hard at their craft and they were all very supportive…great group of individuals. 

Who was the biggest character you ever played with or against?: Too many to list.

What is your favorite moment from your playing career?: It had to be winning my major league debut with my family in attendance at the Coliseum. 

Is there anything you would do differently if you could do your playing career over?: I would have been a little more cautious with my arm. 

Was it difficult to transition from being a professional athlete to the “private” sector?: It was tough because I invested a lot of myself into being a successful baseball player. You just have to look at transitioning to the private sector as a new challenge in your life to take on. I still miss the camaraderie and the opportunity to take the mound and compete.   

Are you disappointed you didn’t get a longer stint in the Majors?: I wish I could have had a long career in the Major Leagues but I fully believe things work out the way they are supposed to. 

What have you done since you stopped playing?: I have done what I guess would be the normal routine…go to work and raise a family. I have a great wife of 17 years and have three children – Jack (13), Josie (10) and David (8). I worked at Dell Inc for 5 ½ years as a Software Development Project Manager when I first retired from baseball in 1997. I then worked for 3 years with the Round Rock Express as the Communications Director. I am currently in my second five year stint with Dell working as a Business Development PM. I enjoy coaching my kids in softball, baseball and basketball.

How many autograph requests do you typically get?: Surprisingly I still get 10-15 per week.


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