The retirement of Mike Maroth may not even register as a blip on the run-of-the-mill baseball fan’s radar but that doesn’t mean it isn’t newsworthy, especially to baseball fans in Detroit.
Maroth came to the Tigers from the Red Sox organization in 1999 when the Tigers sent Bryce Florie to Boston. He made a seemingly normal year by year progression through the minor leagues and earned his major league debut in 2002 after posting a sparkling 8-1 record and 2.82 ERA with AAA Toledo. The Tigers went on to lose in Mike Maroth‘s debut 2-1 to the Philadelphia Phillies but that wasn’t Maroth’s fault, he pitched seven scoreless innings that day. Mike went on to spend the rest of the season with the Tigers and finished with a 6-10 record and 4.48 ERA. It was enough to prove that he belonged in the starting rotation in 2003 and beyond.
The 2003 season wasn’t easy for anyone associated with the Tigers organization, players and fans alike. A 43-119 baseball team can be hard to watch and, forget the money, it must be hard for a ballplayer to endure. That season showed a lot about Mike Maroth‘s character as a person. It had been 23 years since a pitcher had lost 20 games in a season but Maroth refused to be kept from the mound while the losses piled up. Maroth lost his 20th game of the season on September 5 and finished the year 8-21. He remains the last man to lose at least 20 games, a distinction Brian Kingman held from 1980 to 2003.
A lot has been made about the players that endured the 2003 season and then got to enjoy the 2006 season. Mike Maroth isn’t one of those players. He got off to a fine start to the season before a shoulder injury led to six earned runs in just a third of an inning in Kansas City and forced Maroth out of action. He did return for some relief duty in September but did not appear in the playoffs.
Mike last appeared in the major leagues with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2007 after they acquired him from the Tigers for a player to be named later (Chris Lambert). Comeback attempts with the Kansas City Royals, Toronto Blue Jays and Minnesota Twins ultimately fell short as injuries and the realities that face veteran pitchers in Maroth’s situation were too much to overcome.
Through all the trials and tribulations the Maroth family has a special place in their hearts for Detroit and Tigers fans. That fact was quite evident when Mike joined former MCB site lead Joe Dexter for an interview in early August of 2009.
Thanks for everything, Mike!
Check out Jon Paul Morosi’s article for more on Mike Maroth‘s retirement: