#retriever50for50 - Witasick Debuts with Oakland Athletics, Becomes First Retriever to Play in MLB

#retriever50for50 -  Witasick Debuts with Oakland Athletics, Becomes First Retriever to Play in MLB

The California Angels defeated the host Oakland Athletics, 9-4, on July 7, 1996. It was a fairly non-descript game for two teams that would finish in the bottom two positions of the American League West that season. But the game did attract plenty of attention 3,000 miles east and is Moment No. 30 on the #retriever50for50 countdown.

Jay Witasick entered the game in the eighth inning and pitched 1.1 innings of scoreless baseball, becoming the first Retriever to compete in the major leagues.

Witasick, a Bel Air, Md. native, came to UMBC in the fall of 1991 and pitched for two seasons with the Retrievers. He was an integral part of the 1992 squad that reached the NCAA, but really came on strong in 1993. Witasick posted a 4-1 record, pitched to a 3.47 ERA and opponents hit only. 184. He was one of the nation's leaders in strike-outs per nine innings, fanning 78 batters in 57 innings.   

Witasick was drafted in the second round of the 1993 draft, as the St. Louis Cardinals selected him with the No. 58 pick. (The No. 1 pick in that draft was a player by the name of Alex Rodriguez.) He competed in 27 games over three years with the Athletics and was traded to the Kansas City Royals. Witasick became a starter with Kansas City, posting a 9-12 record in 28 starts in 1999.

The hard-throwing right-hander competed for seven different organizations and 12 years in professional baseball.

Witasick saw action in back-to-back World Series, pitching for the New York Yankees in 2001 and the San Francisco Giants in 2002. Unfortunately, his team was on the losing end of both fall classics.

Another Retriever, Zach Clark, also made the majors, seeing action for the Orioles in 2013.