It was a warm May Saturday in 2007, just before Memorial Day. The Yuba-Sutter Gold Sox would play their third game of the season that night. New team owner Tom Lininger recalls a 6-foot-5, 235 pound redhead walk into the clubhouse with his gear and say, “Hi. I'm here to pitch.” That guy is now in the big leagues.
The pitcher's name was Curtis Partch. It was just a week before Major League Baseball's amateur draft, and scouts from the Cincinnati Reds wanted to look at him. They arranged to be at the ball park in Marysville, and Partch, out of Merced College, would be in uniform. He started that night, threw four innings, allowed one run and two hits, walked one and struck out five. Not knock-'em-dead numbers, but the Reds were impressed enough to draft him in the 26th round. Six years later, he's in the majors, and Dusty Baker is his manager.
Partch is the fourth collegiate player ever to wear a Gold Sox uniform and make it to the show. Dallas Braden, who pitched a perfect game on Mother's Day in 2009 was the first. Tommy Everidge, who was the first Gold Sox MVP, played two-dozen games for the A's in 2009—the only position player in Gold Sox history to play in the majors. Padres pitcher Anthony Bass got his call in 2011.
Partch's trip through the minors has not been without bumps in the road. Before his call-up Saturday, his most famous moment was an infamous one for him. In June of 2010 while pitching in Double-A, Partch gave up two home runs in the same game to a guy named Mike (now known as Giancarlo) Stanton. Stanton, a highly-touted Marlins prospect got his call to the big leagues the next day. Partch wouldn't get higher than the Double-A level until this season.
He pitched eight games at Double-A Pensacola this season, then was finally promoted to Triple-A Louisville. There, he pitched in 16 games, was 1-2 with a 3.74 earned run average. In Double-A and Triple-A combined he had 41 strikeouts in 30 innings. He was ready. The Reds optioned Logan Ondrusek to Louisville, and called up Partch.
Partch got the phone call Saturday morning from Louisville Manager Jim Riggleman. I thought I was in trouble or something," Partch told mlb.com. "I was still half asleep when he told me." Partch's major league debut Sunday was on national television. In extra-innings. On ESPN. The St. Louis Cardinals had already scored three runs in the top of the tenth and had loaded the bases. Curtis was brought in to face Matt Holliday. The Cardinals outfielder hit a grand slam.
It's not the debut you would want, and certainly is one he won't forget. I'm sure he hasn't forgotten the two minor league home runs to Stanton, too. He survived those and made it to the big leagues. I'm sure he even remembers his day in Marysville, when he pitched for the Gold Sox. It got him drafted, and even though he surrendered a slam in his debut, he's in the bigs. The Gold Sox remember him, too. Now number four on the list, connecting Marysville to the Majors.