Like a lot of youngsters, Patrick Sadler played ball in his backyard almost as soon he was old enough to walk.
“Played a lot of ball with the neighborhood kids and my dad,” Sadler said. “I played through the Washington Youth Baseball system.”
At 14, Sadler was a pitcher who threw hard.
“Yeah, I threw real hard. I probably intimidated a lot of hitters. That was half the battle,” Sadler said.
At 14, Sadler was a member of a talented Washington Pony World Series all-star team.
Ralph Chicone, a local real estate broker and appraiser, was Sadler’s manager in the World Series.
“We were very good. No kid could do as he (Patrick) could do at 14,” Chicone said. “He was very talented he had a fastball and a nasty curve. He was very solid on the mound. He was one of the most coachable kids I had. No one could hit him.
In that 1997 Pony League World Series, Sadler threw a 3-0 shutout against Danville, Calif. He struck out 16 batters. Washington, however, was eliminated from contention for a spot in the championship earlier that night because of a tiebreaker. Danville went on to blank Hamilton, Ohio, 7-0, in the championship game the next day.
“We could have won it all,” Chicone said.
Sadler also participated in the Colt World Series and found success playing for Trinity High School. He graduated in 2001.
“I spent some time before going to Cal at Gulf Coast Community College in Florida,” Sadler explained. “My coach was Darren Mazeroski. His dad was Bill Mazeroski, the Pirates’ 1960 World Series hero. Bill would come down to Florida and work out with us. He was cool. He told us some great stories about his playing days with the Pirates.”
For two years, Sadler was a catcher at California University, playing for coach Mike Conte.
“Coach Conte fielded competitive teams every year. Cal was a good fit for me,” Sadler said. “Before Cal, I was signed by Louisville, but I didn’t meet their academic standards. Going to Cal provided me an opportunity to play ball on the college level. And we (Cal) were good. We won the PSAC championship my second year.”
Sadler’s baseball career was far from over after his playing days with the Vulcans. He signed as a catcher in 2005 with the Frontier League’s Ohio Valley Redcoats, who were a travel team managed by Washington County native Mark Mason.
A traveling team means you play no home games and never get to bat in the bottom of the ninth inning. It’s play three games, then move on to the next city.
“Traveling did not bother me. As long as I was playing, it didn’t matter,” Sadler said.
Sadler’s pro career continued in 2006 as a member of the Washington Wild Things, who moved him back to pitcher.
“Ohio Valley disbanded and I was picked up in the third round of the dispersal draft by Washington manager John Masserelli. My first year with Washington, I was a reliever. Then, I was a starter the following year.”
Sadler had an excellent 2006 season with the Wild Things, pitching in 30 games and compiling a 4-2 record, three saves and a 2.68 ERA. He was still throwing hard, striking out 47 batters in 50 1/3 innings.
“Playing as a pro in front of my parents and in my hometown was great. I went away to college, then came home to play pro ball. It was an awesome feeling,” Sadler said.
Sadler said some of his favorite moments on the diamond were the PSAC championship with Cal, hitting a grand slam in the Pony League World Series and getting a save in a Frontier League playoff series against Chillicothe.
He also had the rare opportunity to represent the United States. He played for Team USA in the Pan American Games in Venezuela.
“That was fun,” he said. “We placed third behind Cuba and Venezuela. We beat Mexico for third place.”
Bill DiFabio writes a bi-weekly Sunday column on local sports history.