“Unassuming” is the last word one would use to describe a 6’3”, 238lb man with a bushy, brown tumbleweed strapped to his chin, but Brian Schlitter’s life inside the world of baseball would tell you otherwise.
In his MLB career, the 33-year-old Illinois native has a 3-6 record and a 5.38 ERA. Schlitter is not the worst arm out there, and he’s not the best. He’s the textbook definition of ‘forgettable’ in the world of baseball statistics.
However, the man who quite literally traveled the world — with his dog — to continue to get the opportunity to play baseball, refuses to be lost.
Once drafted by the Phillies in 2007, Schlitter danced around the minors before getting traded to the Chicago Cubs the following year. In 2010, the Cubs gave Schlitter his first taste of the major leagues, a smidge over 10 miles from where he pitched high school ball. He appeared in seven games.
The end of the season saw the end of Schlitter’s Chicago run — or so it seemed. He was scooped off waivers by the Yankees, then cut from the squad. The Phillies picked him up again, but he was returned to the Cubs due to a pre-existing elbow injury.
In 2011, which team would want Schlitter next was the least of his concerns. At the end of Spring Training, he was sidelined with another elbow injury. Three months later, Schlitter underwent Tommy John surgery. He knew his career wasn’t over, but there were major challenges ahead.
Rehabbing in the midwest is not as easy as rehabbing in the warmer parts of the country. The parts where you can wander out and exercise every day, even if you have to get up a little earlier to beat any summer heat. Schlitter was set to start his rehab through the icy, frozen winters of the Chicago suburbs, through days where he couldn’t get his car out of the garage because of the snow storms.
Inexplicably, he did it. Schlitter fought back, because the slim chance to play baseball again stood on the other side of the pain and frustration.
In 2012, Schlitter was back on the Cubs, a non-roster invitee to Spring Training. Just like he had pushed through the freezing midwest winter, he fought back to the Cubs minor league roster. He was back in business.
On March 29th, the Cubs announced Schlitter had made the Opening Day roster. On May 3rd, he picked up his first career MLB win, clipping the wings of the historic rival St Louis Cardinals.
.@IowaCubs pitcher Brian Schlitter celebrates Dog Day at Principal Park with his pooch Patrick. #Cubs #PCL #MiLB pic.twitter.com/kshze2RkMB— Tommy Birch (@TommyBirch) August 11, 2015
In 2015, he did not make the Opening Day roster, and though he eventually made it into 10 more games for Chicago, he was designated for assignment on August 27th.
TJ surgery and a boot from the MLB certainly would deter a lot of people, and with good reason. 30 years old at the time, Schlitter was not the young prospect he once was. Getting to the point where he was becoming a harder sell — especially with a big injury asterisk — tipping his cap and heading back home would have been a fine way to end his career. Hard-fought battles, memories all over the States, and a few stints on the Big League team he grew up a short drive away from.
Or, say, he could pack up his things and fly to Japan to participate in Autumn camp in hopes of pitching for a team on the other side of the world.
@BrianSchlitter Happy birthday! We don't forget you. Thank you for coming to Lions. pic.twitter.com/AoL1ss7zw4— おか〜ずさん (@okaazusan37_xxx) December 21, 2017
Some guys go the Indie Ball route, some go to Japan!
After a season abroad, Schlitter returned home to his dog and a minor league contract with the Dodgers. He compiled 21 saves and a 3.32 ERA in his AAA ball return to the States, leading to the A’s signing him to their own minor league deal in November 2018.
When the A’s got Schlitter, they unknowingly got someone else, too! Patrick, Brian’s biggest fan and travel partner since day one! Patrick has seen just about as much of the world and baseball as Brian, so, more than most humans have!
He is a very good boy.
On June 23rd, the A’s called Schlitter up, giving him his first taste of MLB in almost exactly four years, since June 14th, 2015.
Schlitter has pitched for 10 minor league teams, two teams in the Majors, two Winter League teams — Mexico and Puerto Rico — and the Seibu Lions in Japan.
Some guys are content removing themselves from the baseball world when the going gets tough, falling back on a secondary plan or a college degree in their hip pocket. Others, they can’t be taken out of the game, even if it means traveling 6,300 miles from home to stay on a pitcher’s mound.
Schlitter may have missed Bark At the Park by a couple days, but him and his furry friend are ready for their next big adventure!
Patrick the pooch is
This poll is closed
The bestest boy
A good boy
A very good boy
A handsome man
A great dog