Jay Kirkpatrick

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Lester Jay Kirkpatrick

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Biographical Information[edit]

Jay Kirkpatrick played in the minor leagues and Taiwan in a career that ran from 1991-2001. He hit 144 homers, not counting winter ball.

Kirkpatrick was the Division III All-American catcher in 1991 while at Methodist College. The Los Angeles Dodgers chose him in the 33rd round of the 1991 amateur draft. He made his pro debut with the Great Falls Dodgers, hitting .321 while playing first base and just missing the Pioneer League's top 10 in average.

Jay hit .281/.334/.395 for the 1992 Vero Beach Dodgers while leading the team in doubles (22) and RBI (50). In 1993, Kirkpatrick batted .288/.349/.408 for the Bakersfield Dodgers and .320/.405/.588 in 27 games for the AA San Antonio Missions. For a 33rd round pick and a former division III player, he had reached AA at only 24, very good work. He led Bakersfield with 63 RBI and his .993 fielding percentage was best among first basemen in the California League.

Kirkpatrick spent the winter in the Adelaide Giants and hit .288/.367/.641 with 15 HR and 48 RBI in 49 games in the 1993-1994 Australian Baseball League; Australian baseball writers Flintoff and Dunn said "Kirkpatrick was such a big man the bat looked like a tooth-pick in his hand; it must have looked like a lumber yard to pitchers." He tied Tony Adamson for third in homers (two behind leader Brendan Kingman), was second in RBI (4 behind Adamson, one ahead of Dave Nilsson), set a new import player record for RBI and was 5th in slugging. He was named the league's All-Star 1B, joining Homer Bush, Greg Jelks and Kingman on the infield.

Jay's stock continued to rise in 1994. He hit .296/.360/.510 with 40 doubles, 18 homers and 75 RBI for San Antonio and made it briefly to AAA with the Albuquerque Dukes (1 for 5). He was second in the Texas League in doubles (behind Joel Chimelis), 10th in average and only 20 slugging points behind leader Bobby Abreu. He also led TL first basemen in fielding percentage (.994). OBP machine Chris Pritchett beat him out for league All-Star honors at first. Kirkpatrick's 41 doubles led Dodgers minor leaguers.

Kirkpatrick's climb stopped in 1995. He played 13 games for Albuquerque (.250/.286/.400) but spent the rest of the year with the A-ball San Bernardino Spirit, hitting .270/.362/.509 in 71 games. In 1996, the Floridian hit .242/.324/.385 in 30 games for San Antonio and .243/.303/.290 with no homers in 107 AB and 51 games for the Dukes, his longest taste of AAA.

Kirkpatrick batted .260/.287/.414 for the 1997 Missions, for years after he debuted with them. A part-time DH, his plate discipline had worsened drastically as he only drew 8 walks and fanned 53 times in 223 plate appearances, when he used to draw 40-50 walks per season.

Let go by Los Angeles, Kirkpatrick signed with Taiwan's Sinon Bulls and did more than impress. In 1998, he hit .387/.516/.732 with 31 homers, 97 walks and 101 RBI in 104 games. He won the first Triple Crown in Taiwanese baseball history, setting records in two of the three categories and tying the record in the other. He won the batting race by .011 over Ty Gainey. He set new Chinese Professional Baseball League records for batting average (which would last 10 years until Cheng-Min Peng broke it) and RBI (broken 9 years later by Tilson Brito). He tied Luis Iglesias and Sam Horn's home run record, which Brito would also break in 9 years. He ended a five-year run of Best Nine honors for Kuang-Huei Wang at first base. He also won MVP honors and led in hits (137). His combined total of 7 awards or league leaderships (he also was March MVP) was also a CPBL record. Despite his stellar season, none of his records still stood 11 years later. He would be the only Triple Crown winner until Po-Jung Wang performed the feat 19 years later.

Kirkpatrick faded significantly in 1999, only hitting .234/.362/.331 in 42 games for Sinon, earning him his release less than a year after dominating the Taiwanese baseball world. Returning to the US, Jay hit .434 in 40 games for the Sioux City Explorers. Had he qualified, he would have easily led the Northern League in average.

In 2000, the veteran infielder batted .292 and slugged .528 for Sioux City. He led the team in each of the Triple Crown stats as he had 19 HR and 75 RBI, 11 more homers than any of his teammates. He ended his playing career in 2001 with Sioux City (.245, .447 SLG in 44 games) and the Duluth-Superior Dukes (.349, .559 SLG in 43 games). Overall, he hit .296 with 16 homers, again one of the better hitters in the Northern League. He retired at that point.

Kirkpatrick coached for Sioux City in 2002 and was their manager in 2003, when they were 33-57.