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Tom Mastny: Minor League Pitcher Has His Moment in the Sun

Tom Mastny is part of Major League Baseball history, though not through the usual channels of skillful play, commercial advertisements, and record breaking. No, Mastny is the first Indonesian born Major League Baseball player, though his parents were traveling Americans from Indiana, making Indonesia the 52nd country to spawn a professional baseball player in the United States. However, Mastny just barely qualifies as a Major League Baseball player; he’s spent most of his time on the mound in the minor leagues or across the Pacific Ocean. Tom Mastny has had at least one moment in the sun during his MLB career: during Game 2 of the 2007 American League Championship Series, Mastny retired three of the Boston Red Sox’s best players in the bottom of the tenth inning, saving the game and the Cleveland Indians’ World Series hopes.

Tom Mastny (nicknamed “Mr. Nasty”) was born on the Indonesian island of Bontang to Hoosier parents who were traveling abroad. Mastny returned with his family to the Indianapolis suburb of Zionsville, Indiana, where he spent his younger days. Mastny, who today stands at a towering 6′ 6″ and 220 pounds, was a force on the mound even during his Indiana high school days, when he played for Zionsville Community High School. After graduating from the Zionsville school, Mastny migrated to the Greenville, South Carolina, where he enrolled in a small private college called Furman University. Mastny was a starting pitcher for Furman, and in his senior year he earned Southern Conference Pitcher of the Year honors. Despite this high accolade, Mastny wasn’t really considered a shoo-in to the pros (unlike Greenfield, Indiana‘s rising pitcher, Kyle Gibson), but he was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the eleventh round of the 2003 draft.

Video of former Cleveland Indians pitcher and Zionsville, Indiana resident Tom Mastny warming up for the minor league Somerset Patriots

 

So began Tom Mastny’s long affiliation with minor league baseball. He began in the New York-Penn League, playing Single A ball for the Auburn Doubledays. The next year, Mastny moved to the Charleston Alley Cats, another Single A team, before again being traded to the Cleveland Indians club. Mastny started for the Single A Kinston Indians in the 2005 season before being demoted to a relief pitcher. However, things would start to look up for Mastny after he ceased being the starter. He finally moved up to a Double A team, the Akron Aeros, whom he played several games of the 2006 season with before again being brought up in the ranks, this time to the Triple A Buffalo Bisons.

Tom Mastny might have stayed in the minor leagues forever if not for the poor play of the Cleveland Indians during the 2006 season. Mastny was still playing for the Buffalo Bisons, the Triple A club of the Indians, when the Indians began moving around their bullpen to try and find solutions to their ongoing pitching problems, epitomized by the trade of one of the Indians’ best closers, Bob Wickman. Mastny was thrust in the closing pitcher role for the Indians, a role which he hardly seemed suited for. Mastny had only recorded three saves in his entire minor league career, but he earned his first win with two scoreless innings against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays less than a month after his major league debut. Mastny then became a prospect for a full time position as the Indians’ closer.

Video highlights of Game 2 of the 2007 American League Championship Series, in which Zionsville, Indiana native Tom Mastny closes out the tenth inning against the Boston Red Sox

 

Tom Mastny would get his deepest drink from the well of national baseball fame during Game 2 of the 2007 American League Championship Series. In an epic five hour game, the score was tied at six runs in the bottom of the tenth inning. Mastny entered the lineup to close out the inning and give the Indians another chance at taking the lead. The former minor league pitcher managed to get rid of some of the most dangerous components of the Red Sox lineup when he retired David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, and Mike Lowell. The Indians managed to crush the Red Sox in the eleventh inning, racking up seven runs on a decimated Red Sox pitching squad. Though the Indians would go on to lose the American League Championship in a nail biting seven game series, Game 2 was a defining moment in the career of Tom Mastny.

Despite his success in the American League Championship, Mastny wouldn’t remain in the major leagues for very long. He returned to the Triple A Bisons at the start of the 2008 season, started several games with the Indians when pitcher Joe Borowski was injured, and was traded to the Yokohama Bay Stars in Japan in late 2008. Mastny would return to the United States in March of 2010 to once again play for a minor league team in the Cleveland Indians franchise. Currently, Mastny is a still a minor league player, pitching for the Triple A New Orleans Zephyrs, a Florida Marlins club. Tom Mastny has been on the fringes of the MLB for almost his entire career, but even if this famous Zionsville resident never makes it in the big leagues, he’ll still have a sterling victory in the American League Championship to call his own.


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