Obituary: Jarrod Patterson (1973-2020)

RIP to Jarrod Patterson, a corner infielder who had two brief stints in the major leagues as well as a pretty substantial career in the minors and in indie ball. Patterson, 46, was killed in a car accident on March 11. He played for the Detroit Tigers (2001) and Kansas City Royals (2003).

According to The Clanton Advertiser (Clanton, Ala.), Patterson and another driver were killed in a two-car accident on Interstate 65 near mile marker 211. Patterson’s vehicle, according to the paper, was traveling northbound in the southbound lane of the interstate. The Clanton Police Department is investigating the accident.

A GoFundMe campaign has been established on behalf of the four young children that he leaves behind:

Jarrod Zane Patterson was born in Montgomery, Ala., on September 7, 1973. He was part of the 1990 Chilton County High School baseball team that was a runner-up in the Alabama state championship. He graduated in 1991 after hitting .470 with 11 home runs and 38 RBIs in his senior year. He attended Jeff Davis Community College on a scholarship.

After he was named the Southeast District MVP first baseman and the NJCAA All-American, the New York Mets drafted Patterson in the 20th Round of the 1993 June Amateur Draft. He was one of only three players drafted in that round to make the major leagues. Starting in the Gulf Coast League that year, Patterson spent four seasons in the Mets’ organization. His best season was with the Kingsport Mets of the Appalachian League in 1995. He hit .279 with 17 doubles and 13 home runs while driving in 57 runs. He was released by the Mets at the end of the 1996 season, as they didn’t project that he would hit with enough power for a first baseman.

Source: Toledo Blade

Patterson spent 1997 with the independent Regina Cyclones of the Prairie League. The Cyclones made it to the league championship before losing to the Minot Mallards. Patterson was a big part of the team’s success, with a .363/.452/.567 slash line. He homered 7 times and knocked in 50 runs. He also spent a fair amount of time in the field as an outfielder and a third baseman, and he even started a game as a pitcher and worked 5 solid innings.

The Arizona Diamondbacks signed Patterson for the 1998 season, and he continued his hot hitting at every level. He pounded out 18 homers and had 102 RBIs for the High Desert Mavericks of the California League in 1998, and when he got his first taste of AA and AAA ball in 1999, he hit a combined .358. His 187 hits were the most among all minor leaguers that year. He improved his play at third base, and his willingness to adapt to any situation earned him praise in the organization. “The more versatility you have as a player, the better off you are,” he said.

Patterson was granted free agency at the end of the ’99 season, and he spent time in the minors with the Pirates and Expos organizations before signing with the Detroit Tigers.

Patterson’s 2001 season started off badly, as he was stuck as a backup infielder on the Toledo Mud Hens, Detroit’s AAA team. He even accepted a demotion to AA in order to play regularly. After hitting .400 in AA, he returned to Toledo and continued to play well. In June, the Tigers suffered a rash of injuries, and Patterson got his first call to the majors after shortstop Deivi Cruz was placed on the 15-day disabled list.

“It was an unbelievable feeling,” said the 27-year-old rookie. “I had to sit back and pinch myself. This is something I have been working so hard for for the part seven years.”

Patterson’s MLB debut came on June 16, 2001, against the Diamondbacks. He picked up his first hit in the ninth inning off Bret Prinz. The next day, he got three hits, including his first MLB home run, off D-Backs ace Curt Schilling. The game after that was in Detroit against the New York Yankees; he singled off Roger Clemens.

In 13 games, Patterson hit .268 with a double, a triple and 2 home runs. He was sent back to AAA when the Tigers needed pitching help in late July. He played well for Toledo in 2002 but did not get a return to the majors with the Tigers, so he signed with the Kansas City Royals in 2003. He had two separate stays with the Royals; one in July and one in September. All total, Patterson hit .182 with the Royals in 13 games.

With his two partial seasons in the major leagues, Patterson played in a total of 26 games and slashed .238/.294/.381. He had 15 hits, including 1 double, 1 triple and 2 home runs, and 4 RBIs.

Patterson hit .264 with the Royals’ AAA team in 2004, with 11 homers. After being granted free agency after the season, he spent two years in the independent Northern League, playing for the Schaumburg Flyers, Joliet Jackhammers and Gary Southshore Railcats. In a total of 14 seasons in the minors and indie ball, Patterson hit 146 home runs with a .290 batting average.

Patterson wasn’t really a pitcher (1 one game in Regina aside) but he had an incredible save while playing in the Dominican Republic Winter League in the 2003-4 offseason. One of his teammates, Luis Terrero, experienced unusual swelling in his upper left arm. The trainer, unsure of what it was, wanted to apply ice. Patterson and Esteban German threatened the trainer to seek medical help, and they took Terrero to a hospital. Doctors there discovered that the player had developed a blood clot that could have broken free and killed him. “I think God for him [being] there,” Terrero said of Patterson.

From his earliest days as a professional ballplayer, Patterson liked coaching children. Even as a low-level minor-leaguer in the Mets organization, he participated in many youth camps.

“I love working with kids because they have an interest in learning and are trying to get better,” he said after a 1995 camp in Pensacola. “I remember when I was a little kid and I saw a college, or even a high school player in a uniform, I looked up to them. I guess these kids do the same with me.”

After retiring as a player in 2007, Patterson worked as a hitting instructor and a travel ball coach.

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