Mientkiewicz as the Fort Myers Miracle manager
|Born: June 19, 1974|
|September 18, 1998, for the Minnesota Twins|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 4, 2009, for the Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Runs batted in||405|
|Career highlights and awards|
Douglas Andrew Mientkiewicz ( mint-KAY-vitch; born June 19, 1974) is an American retired professional baseball first baseman, who most recently served as the manager for the Toledo Mud Hens. He batted left-handed and threw right-handed. He is one of five American players to win both an Olympic gold medal and a World Series championship which he won with the Boston Red Sox in 2004 over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Mientkiewicz attended Westminster Christian School in Palmetto Bay, Florida, where he was a teammate of Alex Rodriguez. Upon graduation, he was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the twelfth round of the 1992 Major League Baseball Draft, but chose instead to play at Florida State University.
In his third season with the Seminoles, Mientkiewicz led the team with a .371 batting average, 19 home runs and 80 runs batted in. Florida State earned their first Atlantic Coast Conference Championship, and Mientkiewicz was named ACC Atlantic I Regional Most Valuable Player. After the season, Mientkiewicz was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the fifth round of the 1995 Major League Baseball Draft. Mientkiewicz was elected to the Florida State University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2005.
In 1998, he batted .323, with a .432 on-base percentage and .508 slugging percentage in 509 at-bats for the New Britain Rock Cats to earn Eastern League (Double-A) All-Star honors, and a September call-up to the Twins. He batted .200 with two runs batted in in 25 at-bats for the Twins.
Mientkiewicz earned a roster spot with the Twins the following spring without having playing in Triple-A, and batted .229 with two home runs and 32 runs batted in sharing playing time with Ron Coomer at first base in 1999. After a full season in the majors, Mientkiewicz spent the 2000 season with the Twins' Triple-A affiliate, the Salt Lake Buzz. He was the Triple-A All-Star first baseman, and Pacific Coast League All-Star designated hitter. He batted .334, with a .446 on-base percentage and a .524 slugging percentage in 485 at-bats for Salt Lake, while both scoring and driving in 96 runs.
After the Triple-A season, Mientkiewicz joined the U.S. Olympic team at the 2000 games in Sydney. Mientkiewicz hit the game-winning home run against South Korea in the semi-finals to help the U.S. capture its first-ever gold medal in baseball. Following the Olympics, he spent three games with the Twins, collecting six hits in fourteen at-bats.
In 2001, Mientkiewicz was awarded the starting first base job for the Twins, and responded by batting .306 with fifteen home runs and 74 runs batted in (all career highs) while earning the American League Gold Glove award for top defensive first baseman.
His numbers dipped in 2002; however, he reached the post-season for the first time in his career, and hit two home runs in the 2002 American League Division Series against the Oakland Athletics. The Twins battled the Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals for the division crown all season long in 2003.
Mientkiewicz drew the ire of the Chicago White Sox and their fans by suggesting that the All-Star Game, scheduled to be played at U.S. Cellular Field on July 15, should be moved to a different venue after a fan attacked umpire Laz Diaz during an April 15 game between the White Sox and Royals.Chicago White Sox General Manager Kenny Williams shot back that Mientkiewicz should not worry about the game's location because he would not be there.
The fans booed Mientkiewicz the first time he and the Twins came to U.S. Cellular Field on April 25, and cheered White Sox starter Mark Buehrle for hitting Mientkiewicz with a pitch during his first at-bat.
Following a mid-September three-game sweep over the White Sox at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome that gave the Twins a game lead in the American League Central, Mientkiewicz again got himself in the crosshairs by commenting in a postgame television interview, "They're done," about his Central Division rivals. The Twins won the division by four games over the Chicago White Sox, but were eliminated by the New York Yankees in the 2003 American League Division Series.
As the trade deadline approached, the 2004 Boston Red Sox found themselves games in back of the New York Yankees in the American League East, and one game in back of the Texas Rangers in the wild card race. With infield defense proving to be their Achilles' heel, they made a four-team trade deadline deal on July 31 that landed Mientkiewicz and Montreal Expos shortstop Orlando Cabrera with the Boston Red Sox, and sent Justin Jones to the Twins. The Red Sox also sent Nomar Garciaparra and Matt Murton to the Chicago Cubs, and the Cubs sent Francis Beltrán, Alex Gonzalez and Brendan Harris to the Expos as part of this trade.
Mientkiewicz and Cabrera proved valuable additions to their new franchise as the Red Sox surged to within three games of the Yankees by the end of the season, and took the A.L. wild card by seven games over the Oakland A's. On August 16, Mientkiewicz made an emergency start at second base, a position he had only ever played four times in the minor leagues, and never in the majors.
Mientkiewicz went 4-for-10 in the post-season. He did not appear in any of the first three games of the 2004 American League Championship Series that the Red Sox lost to the New York Yankees; however, he appeared in all of the final four that they won in their come-from-behind series win.
When St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Édgar Rentería grounded back to pitcher Keith Foulke, who trotted toward first base and underhanded the ball to Mientkiewicz to complete Boston's four-game sweep of the World Series, Mientkiewicz kept the ball, as dictated by baseball tradition. As Boston had not won a World Series in 86 years, the ball symbolized the end of the so-called "Curse of the Bambino", and was of considerable interest to memorabilia collectors.
Controversy resulted when the Red Sox asked for the ball's return, and Mientkiewicz refused to give it back. Shortly after his January 27 trade to the New York Mets, Mientkiewicz and the Red Sox reached an agreement that the Red Sox would hold the ball temporarily and could display it across New England, along with the World Series trophy. The agreement called for Mientkiewicz to get the ball back at the end of 2005 unless the ultimate issue of ownership has been otherwise resolved. In the controversy that followed, Mientkiewicz received death threats against himself and his wife.
On November 30, 2005, lawyers for the Red Sox filed suit in Suffolk Superior Court asking the court to place the ball in a secure location until ownership was decided. The club's legal team said that Mientkiewicz had gained possession of the ball only because he was a Red Sox employee and that the ball remained the team's property. On April 23, 2006, it was announced that he had reached an agreement with the Red Sox, and the ball would go to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Mientkiewicz began the 2005 season as the Mets' everyday first baseman, but lost his starting job to prospect Mike Jacobs by the end of the season. During the following season with the Kansas City Royals, he compiled a .283 batting average and 43 runs batted in, his most since playing with Minnesota. He was not offered a contract by the Royals, and on January 5, 2007, he signed a one-year deal with the New York Yankees.
On June 2, 2007, Mientkiewicz collided with Mike Lowell of the Boston Red Sox while trying to field a throw from shortstop Derek Jeter. He suffered a mild concussion and a fractured scaphoid bone in his right wrist and was placed on the disabled list. Mientkiewicz missed three months of the season, and did not return until September 4. He made his first start since the injury on September 16, and went two-for-three in the Yankees' 4-3 victory over the Red Sox.
For the season, he batted .277 with five home runs and 24 runs batted in. He made the post-season for the fourth time in his career, and was hitless in six at-bats.
On February 11, 2008, Mientkiewicz signed a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training with the Pittsburgh Pirates. In his only season in Pittsburgh, he batted .277 with two home runs and 30 runs batted in, mostly backing up Adam LaRoche at first base. He also made 33 appearances at third base and ten in right field. He briefly left the team during the season while his wife, Jodi, had heart surgery.
On February 26, 2009, Mientkiewicz signed a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He made the Major League roster as a pinch hitter and appeared in seven games for the Dodgers in April before dislocating his shoulder sliding into second base and being placed on the 60-day disabled list. After a brief rehab stint with the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes from July 28 to August 17, Mientkiewicz rejoined the Dodgers in September, seeing sporadic action as a pinch hitter down the stretch. He collected six hits in eighteen at-bats, only one of which was for extra bases, and had three runs batted in.
Mientkiewicz signed a minor league contract with the Dodgers for the 2010 season, and came to camp to compete for the left-handed pinch hitter role. He was offered a coaching position with the team when he did not make the club out of spring training, but opted instead to keep playing and become a free agent.
On May 5, 2010, he signed a minor league contract with the Florida Marlins, but was released just nine days later after playing four games for the Marlins' Triple A affiliate, the New Orleans Zephyrs. Mientkiewicz's deal included a one-day out clause for May 16, and the Marlins chose to cut him loose before he could exercise it.
Following his release, Mientkiewicz chose to retire from baseball.
After retirement, Mientkiewicz worked as an analyst for the 2010 MLB post-season for CBSSports.com.
Mientkiewicz made his coaching debut in 2012 in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization as the hitting coach of the rookie league Ogden Raptors in the Pioneer League. After 2012, he was hired by the Minnesota Twins organization as the Manager of the high-Class A Fort Myers Miracle, the team he played for in 1995-96 to start his baseball career. Mientikiewicz got the Miracle off to a fast start in 2013 as the team tied a franchise record by winning their first 14 games of the season (equaling the mark set in 1995 and tied in 2007) and ended April with a Minor League best 21 wins (21-4).
In October 2014, Mientkiewicz was a finalist to become the manager of the Minnesota Twins. Ultimately, Paul Molitor was selected as Twins manager, and Mientkiewicz managed the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts in 2015-16 before returning to Fort Myers for a second term as the Miracle's skipper. He was fired after the 2017 season.