For those of you who have been watching this season’s MLB post season it’s been quite an exciting October to date. The Fall Classic matchup is now set between fellow Greek Mike Moustakas and his upstart Kansas City Royals going against the San Francisco Giants who will be looking for their 3rd World Series title in 5 years. Moustakas has been nothing short of clutch throughout the post season and Greeks all over the globe should be united to support him and his team as they look to win the World Series. The appearance of Moustakas in the World Series got us over here at Cosmos Philly thinking about other Greeks who are currently active in Major League Baseball so we decided to profile a few of these individuals below.
Peter Bourjos, born March 31, 1987 currently is a center fielder for the St. Louis Cardinals. Originally, he was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in the 10th round of the 2005 draft out of Notre Dame Preparatory High School in Arizona. While at Notre Dame Prep he also played football as a wide receiver and kick returner.
Bourjos spent his first five seasons working his way through the Angels minor league system. He made his Major League debut on August 3, 2010 against the Toronto Blue Jays. During his debut he made a fantastic diving catch in shallow-left-center field to rob a hit. After that game it was clear Bourjos had great potential as a defensive specialist. He ended up playing in 51 games during that 2010 season batting .204 with 6 doubles, 4 triples, 6 homeruns and 10 stolen bases. In 2011 Bourjos ended up in a tie for triples in the American League finishing with 11. That same season proved to be a breakout season for Bourjos who finished with a .271 batting average, 26 doubles, 12 homeruns, 49 extra base hits and 22 stolen bases along with a .291 on base percentage. At the end of that 2011 season longtime Angel outfielder Torii Hunter left the team via free agency which cleared a path for Bourjos to claim an every-day starting outfield spot.
During the 2013 season Burjos was really hitting his stride at the plate. By June of the 2013 season he had been carrying a .333 batting average. However, in August of that season Bourjos took a pitch off his wrist while playing in a game against Houston. He attempted to recover without surgery but he wasn’t able to be the same after as his batting average dipped to .274 to finish the season. At the conclusion of the 2013 season he was traded by the Angels over to the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League. Bourjos has been a prized speedster and defensive specialist for the Cardinals as he continues to play a role for a franchise that is constantly winning and always a contender year in and year out.
George Kontos was born June 12, 1985 and currently plays as a relief pitcher for the current National League Champion San Francisco Giants. Kontos went to Niles West High School in Skokie, Illinois where he was named high school baseball player of the year in 2003. Kontos eventually went on to attend NorthWestern University. Despite never winning 5 games in a season or finishing with an ERA below 5 Kontos was eventually drafted by the New York Yankees in the 5th round of the 2006 draft after his junior year of school.
Kontos started off like most Major League ball players in the minor league system where he played for the Staten Island Yankees where he helped lead the team to the 2006 league championship for Class A. In June of 2009 Kontos began experiencing tightness in his pitching arm. He was eventually placed on the disabled list and missed the remainder of the season as he was required to undergo Tommy John surgery. After the 2010 season the Yankees decided not to protect Kontos on their 40 man roster leaving him available for other teams to pick him up during the rule 5 draft. He was selected by the San Diego Padres during that draft where he made 3 appearances for them during spring training in 2011 and was eventually given back to the Yankees prior to the start of the regular season. Kontos played the majority of the 2011 season for the Yankees minor league team in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He made his Major League debut that season on September 10th against the Angels. He appeared in 7 games to close out the 2011 season where he pitched a 3.0 ERA in 6 full innings and also made the post season roster that same season where the Yankees lost to the Detroit Tigers in the ALDS.
Prior to the start of the 2012 season Kontos was traded to the San Francisco Giants. He began that season with the Fresno Grizzlies of the Triple A Pacific Coast League. He started that season with a 2-0 record and a 1.71 ERA in 23 appearances. The Giants then promoted him to the big leagues on June 10th. That same season Kontos recorded his first ever win in the Majors coming in to relieve Barry Zito. The Giants eventually went on to win the World Series in 2012 as they swept the Tigers. Kontos was part of the post season roster that year and was now crowned a World Champ. Kontos doesn’t figure to be on the current 2014 World Series roster.
Finally, I’d like to end this post by discussing someone that isn’t an active player in the MLB but has had a huge impact on the sport of baseball. Mr Peter Angelos, majority owner of the Baltimore Orioles has been a huge player in bridging the gap between Greece and the American Past time. His parents are from Karpathos, Greece and Angelos himself is a graduate of Eastern College of Commerce and also achieved his law degree from the University of Baltimore School of Law. Angelos began his work as a criminal defense lawyer following graduation. For most of his legal career Angelos made a living as a lawyer representing Baltimore labor unions and their members. He founded his own private practice in 1961. In 1982 his wealth and law firm expanded exponentially when he represented a large number of plaintiffs in the asbestos litigation and won. Reportedly, he made over $100 million on this case.
In 1993 Angelos led a group of investors to purchase the Orioles for $173 million for Eli Jacobs. His official title of the Orioles includes Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer. Angelos set up many notable initiatives for baseball including a two game exhibition series in 1999 between the Orioles and the Cuban national baseball team. He also was a key member of the initiative for the Greeks to have a baseball team during the 2004 Olympics and even went on to draft one of the better Greek players of our generation in Nick Markakis. Today the Orioles are on the rise as one of the teams that could be a contender for the next few years in baseball. They recently lost to the Royals in the ALCS but have a young nucleus of players that figures to be primed for a World Series title at some point soon. If the Orioles can win one over the next few years Angelos will become the first Greek sports owner to win a championship in one of the 4 major American sports.
There you have it, a few additional Greeks currently in baseball. What can you say, the Greeks are everywhere these days including major American sports. Tune in this week to watch the World Series and see if Mike Moustakas and the Royals can win an improbable championship.