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Brendan Donnelly retires after nine seasons in the majors

Mar 9, 2011, 12:45 PM EDT

brendan donnelly angels

Brendan Donnelly has announced his retirement, ending what was a remarkable career for someone who didn’t reach the majors for the first time until age 30 and was never allowed to join the MLB players’ association.

Donnelly spent a decade in the minors pitching for six different organizations–and was a spring training replacement player during the 1994/1995 strike–before the Angels finally gave him a shot in 2002.

He thrived immediately, posting a 2.17 ERA in 50 innings to emerge as a key late-inning reliever on a World Series-winning team and then followed it up with a 1.58 ERA in 74 innings the next season while making the All-Star team with a ridiculous 0.38 first-half ERA.

Donnelly and his trademark goggles remained effective into his mid-30s and even showed flashes of his old dominant self for a brief stint with the Marlins as a 37-year-old in 2007, but injuries set him back numerous times and combined with the extremely late start to equal just 385 career innings (or 259 fewer than he threw in the minors).

  1. BC - Mar 9, 2011 at 12:47 PM

    Didn’t realize he was that old. He was really effective when healthy.

  2. Utley's Hair - Mar 9, 2011 at 1:06 PM

    I was about to ask why he wasn’t allowed to join MLBPA, but I guess the “replacement player” thing kinda explains that, doesn’t it?

  3. mrfloydpink - Mar 9, 2011 at 1:52 PM

    Is Donnelly the last active replacement player?

    Truth be told, I always thought that “barred from joining the union, ever” stuff was kind of BS. I mean, I’m very pro-union and pro-labor, but the MLBPA fights very little (if at all) for the minor league players. I don’t see, then, how the MLBPA can demand that minor leaguers to make sacrifices on behalf of the major leaguers.

    • Detroit Michael - Mar 9, 2011 at 4:56 PM

      Ron Mahay is in camp with the Dodgers. I don’t know if he’s the last one.

      • mrfloydpink - Mar 9, 2011 at 5:46 PM

        I decided to look it up. Barring the return of Alex Ramirez from Japan (which seems unlikely), or the un-retirement of Matt Herges or Kevin Millar (which seems even more unlikely), Mahay will indeed be the last.

  4. pauleee - Mar 9, 2011 at 3:27 PM

    Not only was he not allowed to join MLBPA, he was a non-person when it came to MLB merchandise. I went to a game the year after the World Series win. They were giving away T-shirts celebrating the win. All the Angels were listed on the back, except Donnelly, as if he weren’t even on the team.

    • bloodysock - Mar 9, 2011 at 4:30 PM

      That also happened with Damian Miller when he won with the Diamondbacks in 2001.

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