Former UMaine standout Sweeney retires

Posted March 06, 2009, at 11:35 p.m.

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Mark Sweeney, the former University of Maine baseball star who went on one of Major League Baseball’s most prolific pinch-hitters, retired from the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday but will remain with the team’s field staff as an assistant coach.

“We are excited to be able to keep Mark Sweeney in the Dodger organization and we congratulate him on his retirement from his playing career,” said Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti. “With 14 years of big league experience, he will bring some very valuable baseball knowledge to our staff.”

The 39-year-old Holliston, Mass., native played at Maine from 1988 to 1991, earning freshman All-America honors in 1988 and going on to be named third-team All-America in 1990 and a first-team choice in 1991.

Sweeney rewrote the Black Bears’ record book during his career, and still holds numerous career records including games played (238), at-bats (857), runs scored (240), hits (328), doubles (66), home runs (52), RBI (211), stolen bases (69), total bases (569), slugging percentage (.663) and extra-base hits (127).

Sweeney also still holds several single-season records, including walks, doubles, home runs, stolen bases and total bases.

In 1996 Sweeney was inducted into the University of Maine Sports Hall of Fame.

Sweeney was a ninth-round draft pick of the California Angels in 1991, and made his major-league debut with the St. Louis Cardinals on Aug. 4, 1995, in a game against the Chicago Cubs.

The first baseman-outfielder went on to a 14-year major league career that included three stints with the San Diego Padres as well as time with the Cardinals, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Colorado, San Francisco and the Dodgers.

When he was traded from San Francisco to Los Angeles for second baseman Travis Denker on Aug. 9, 2007, that marked the first trade between those rivals since 1985.

The lefthanded-hitting Sweeney was a career .254 hitter with 42 home runs and 250 RBI in 1,218 games.

Of his 464 career hits, 175 were pinch hits — second in major league history behind Lenny Harris’s 212. He also is the all-time leader in pinch-hit RBI with 102.

As a pinch-hitter, Sweeney went 175 for 679 for a .258 average.

As a member of the Dodgers’ field staff, Sweeney will be in uniform for all pre-game workouts during the season, and he also will serve as an instructor during spring training.

Sweeney will work as a liaison between the Dodgers’ advance scout and the club, including series preparation.

“I truly enjoyed my experience last season with the Dodgers, Joe Torre, and his staff,” said Sweeney. “I look forward to the opportunity to continue that association and to give something back to the game I enjoy so much.”

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