Brooks Kieschnick (TRADING CARD DB)

Brooks Kieschnick

This article was written by Rick Schabowski

Brooks Kieschnick (TRADING CARD DB)Michael Brooks Kieschnick was a rare combination relief pitcher (74 major-league games) and outfielder (50 games), who also played a couple of games at first base, as a designated hitter, and pinch-hit. He batted from the left side and threw right-handed. He was 6-foot-4 and listed at 225 pounds.

Kieschnick was born in Robstown, Texas on June 6, 1972. Father Michael Lee Kieschnick sold drill bits oil fields. He worked in Houston and also abroad in Doha. Qatar for 8 years. His mother Karen Kelley La Barbera “worked in insurance when I was growing up. She had her own company. Kennedy and Kieschnick Insurance. More recently for the last 15 years she has worked for the school district as an information and technology specialist.” He added, “One other interesting point is that my Dad named me after Brooks Robinson.”1 Brooks attended Mary Carroll High School in Corpus Christi, Texas. Perhaps inspired by his father’s interest in baseball, he received a baseball scholarship to the University of Texas at Austin.

There were no freshman jitters for Kieschnick at U.T. in 1991. Playing left field, he had a .358 batting average, along with 14 home runs and 66 RBIs. He maintained a high performance level when he took the mound, starting 12 games, posting a 7-1 record with a sparkling 2.58 ERA. Baseball America named Kieschnick their Freshman Player of the Year.

Kieschnick’s sophomore year in 1992 was another great season. He batted .345 with 10 home runs and 68 RBIs. There was no letdown when Kieschnick toed the pitching rubber. He went 11-3, posting a 3.13 ERA, along with 81 strikeouts. His performance helped lead Texas to the College World Series. He also won the Dick Howser Award, awarded to the Collegiate Player of the Year.

In his junior year, 1993, after posting a 16-4 record, with a 3.25 ERA along with 126 strikeouts, batting .374 with 19 home runs, and 81 RBIs, Kieschnick repeated the honor he won the year before, winning the Howser Award again. (He is the only player ever to win the award in consecutive seasons.) He was also named Baseball America’s 1993 Player of the Year. He helped lead Texas back to the College World Series, and in a 6-5 victory over Oklahoma State on June 5, he threw 172 pitches.

Texas associate head coach Tommy Harmon had high praise for Kieschnick: “I don’t know too many people who have had 15 wins and 15 home runs in the same season. He wanted to be in the game and just because he was hurt didn’t mean he wasn’t going to be in there. He was the ultimate team guy. Whether it was the manager or the bullpen catcher, Brooks respected everyone. He didn’t have any kind of star syndrome. He wasn’t a prima donna or an elitist whatsoever. He was just one of the guys, a true leader.” 2

While playing for the University of Texas between 1991 and 1993, in addition to winning the Dick Howser Award twice, he was also a three-time All-American and earned Southwest Conference Player of the Year honors all three seasons. His career statistics in his three seasons at Texas were great. He had a 34-8 record with a 3.05 ERA and batted .360 with 43 home runs and 215 RBIs.

In later years, on March 28, 2009, in a ceremony before a game against Texas Tech, Texas retired his jersey. Kieschnick was pleased with the honor. “In all honesty, I don’t think it’s actually hit me yet. When I do think about it, that no one will ever wear my jersey again, it’s very overwhelming. It’s truly an unbelievable honor… But to know that number 23 will never be worn again is just…if you could describe it I would love to hear it because I can’t.”3

Kieschnick decided to forego his senior season at the university and was selected on June 3 with the 10th pick of the 1993 amateur free-agent draft by the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs did not plan to use Kieschnick as a pitcher, but he didn’t mind. “Oh, I’d love to hit and to pitch, that would be awesome. But, I’m in the hands of the Cubs.”4

Al Goldis, who was the Cubs head of scouting and player development, thought that Kieschnick was “the best hitter in the country, a potential .300 hitter and 25 home run hitter in the major leagues.”5

Kieschnick was looking forward to playing for the Cubs. “I’m very signable, I just want what’s fair. I’m not out to set the signing record. I’m sure I’ll miss pitching, but I’ll get over that, too. I want to concentrate on one thing. Right now, that’s hitting.”6 On July 23, 1993, he signed his contract, which called for a $650,000 signing bonus. When asked where he wanted to play in the outfield, he answered, “I’m not going to choose, they can choose, put me there and say, ‘Hey, let’s go.’” 7

After signing his contract with the Cubs, he reported to a rookie league team at St. Lucie. He had been a designated hitter and pitcher while playing at Texas, but the Cubs planned to use him as an outfielder. Cubs scouting director Goldis said, “Brooks was worked out and drafted for the sole purpose of playing right field for the Cubs. He has power, hits for average and has a strong throwing arm.”8 He didn’t stay very long at St. Lucie, and in 25 games at Double-A Orlando, he batted .341 with two home runs and 10 RBIs in 98 at-bats. After the season concluded at Orlando, he joined the Cubs in Houston. During a batting practice in Houston he hit a home run over the center-field wall. After the 1993 season ended, he played some third and first base in the Arizona Fall League in October and November.

In 1994, Kieschnick played outfield for the Orlando Cubs in the Southern League. Appearing in 126 games, he posted a .282 batting average in 509 at-bats, along with 14 home runs and 55 runs batted in. Moving up to the Triple-A Iowa Cubs for the 1995 season, Kieschnick, playing in 138 games, with 570 at-bats, batted .295 and led the league with 23 home runs.

After an impressive spring training, Kieschinck opened the 1996 season with the Cubs. He wasn’t expected to stay long, probably being sent down when Cubs third baseman Dave Magadan returned to the active roster after arthroscopic hand surgery, but Kieschinck was excited. “It’s an awesome feeling. My mom’s going to flip out when I tell her.”9 Kieschnick made his major-league debut on April 3, 1996 at Wrigley Field. Pinch hitting for Turk Wendell in the sixth inning, he struck out against the Padres’ Willie Blair. He got his first major-league hit at Dodger Stadium on April 7, when pinch-hitting for pitcher Frank Castillo in the fifth inning, he had an RBI single off of Ismael Valdez.

As expected, Kieschnick was sent down to Iowa and hit 18 home runs, batting .259 in 480 at-bats. He was called up after Iowa’s season ended and hit his first major-league home run on September 24, off Cincinnati’s Curt Lyons. His 1996 statistics for the Cubs were impressive, batting .345 in 29 at-bats.

After a great 1997 spring training in which Kieschnick batted .362 with three homers in 47 ABs, he was surprised to be sent down to Iowa on March 26. Brant Brown, a left-handed hitter who posted a near .400 batting average throughout the exhibition season, got the starting job in left field. Kieschnick was eager to contribute when called on. “I know I can play. Don’t count me out. I’ve gone through this before. I got cut from the Olympic team (in 1992), and the next year I went out and had the best year of my life.”10 He was still a little upset about not staying with the Cubs to open the season. “If they don’t feel I fit into their mix, maybe someone else will. Once I get between the lines, I’ll play hard, whether at (Triple-A) Iowa or Chicago. But I wonder how many more numbers I have to put up to make them realize I belong.”11 Kieschnick was called up on April 11, and after Brant Brown was sent down to Iowa, Kieschnick started in left field. Kieschnick had a big game for the Cubs on April 29 in a 14-8 win over the Expos, going 3-for-4 with two home runs and six runs batted in, but he was sent down again on May 21 when Brown took over the left-field job. He played first, third, and left field at Iowa in 1997, posting a .258 batting average, with 21 home runs and 66 runs batted in.

Kieschnick had gone from being the Cubs’ top-rated prospect, to being shopped around in a trade. After getting called up on September 1, 1997, Kieschnick commented, “Them calling me up shows me they’re still interested in me, and that excites me. The Cubs are the team that drafted me, and this is the team I want to make it with.”12

After the callup, Kieschnick snuck in some warm-up pitching. “Not many people know this, but I threw three or four bullpen sessions that year in September because they thought about making me a pitcher again. I had lost the left-field job to Brant Brown earlier in ’97 and I remember Mark Grace coming down and watching me when they had me throw in the bullpen. Finally, I said to the Cubs, ‘Hey, I’m not going to throw any more bullpens unless you’re going to let me pitch in a game’.”13

Major-league baseball held an expansion draft on November 18, 1997 and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays selected Kieschnick with the 64th pick of the draft. He spent the entire 1998 season in the minors playing for three different teams – the Gulf Coast League Devil Rays, the St. Petersburg Devil Rays in the Florida League (where he spent the majority of the season), and the Durham Bulls of the International League. His combined totals for the 1998 season were a .250 batting average with 28 runs batted in and eight home runs in 140 at-bats. The Devil Rays loaned the services of Kieschnick to the Anaheim Angels for the 1999 season and he spent a majority of the season with their Triple-A Pacific Coast League Edmonton Trappers. In 296 at-bats, Kieschnick batted .314 with 23 home runs and 73 runs batted in. The good season didn’t help, as he was granted free agency on October 15, 1999.

On November 16, 1999, Kieschnick was signed by the Cincinnati Reds. For the 2000 season, they sent him to the Louisville Colonels, their Triple-A team in the International League. He had a decent season there, batting .277 with 25 home runs and 90 runs batted in 113 games with 440 at-bats. He didn’t do well in his 12 at-bats with Cincinnati during the 1999 season, going hitless and striking out five times. On October 3, 2000, the Reds granted Kieschnick free agency, and on December 1, he was signed by the Colorado Rockies.

After the conclusion of spring training, Kieschnick was sent to the Rockies’ Triple-A Pacific Coast League Colorado Springs team. He made his first appearance with the Rockies on May 2, 2001, and his best game was on May 29 when he went 2-for-2 (two home runs) and had three runs batted in in a 7-2 win versus the Dodgers. He had a .238 average in 42 at-bats, striking out 13 times with the Rockies. Despite batting .294, with 45 runs batted in 13 home runs in 252 at-bats for Colorado Springs for the 2001 season, he was granted free agency on October 8, 2001.

After being signed by the Cleveland Indians on February 1 and released a month and a half later, things changed again after the White Sox signed him on May 16. Starting the 2002 season, the emphasis was on staying up in the big leagues based on his pitching. Kieschnick discussed the change of strategy. “I had talked to a bunch of people who said, ‘Hey, you ever think about pitching?’ I was going up and down as a hitter. I didn’t want to be sitting around when I was 40 years old wondering, ‘What would have happened if I had pitched?”14 He further elaborated, “I had to do something. I had to make myself more valuable. I pitched in college, and my arm was rested for 10 years, so that’s what I wanted to do. I made the decision myself. If I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t do it.”15

Kieschnick spent the entire 2002 season with the White Sox Triple-A affiliate Charlotte Knights. After pitching only three innings in his minor-league career, he pitched in 25 games, posting a 0-1 record with a 2.59 ERA, striking out 30 in 31 1/3 innings. He also did well at the plate. In 189 at-bats, he posted a .275 batting average with 13 home runs, 11 doubles, and 40 runs batted in.

The White Sox didn’t have a roster spot available for Kieschnick, so he was released on October 15, 2002. White Sox general manager Ken Williams had high praise for Kieschnick: “His stuff was electric, and he competes like a lion. I can anticipate him not just being in somebody’s bullpen, but in the back of the bullpen.” 16

On November 5, 2002, the Milwaukee Brewers signed Kieschnick. Brewers general manager Doug Melvin was excited about the scenario. “If a player like Brooks can be your 12th pitcher and a bat off the bench, he is performing two roles. He can hit for the pitcher in the fifth inning and stay out there. If he comes up and you don’t want to make a change, he allows a manager to manage an American League game. We love the idea.”17

Kieschnick obviously agreed with Melvin’s assessment. “What Doug Melvin and Ned Yost (Brewers manager) saw was that it allowed them to keep an extra player because I was the 25th and 26th guy on the roster. That’s a huge advantage.”18

After starting the season with the Brewers’ Triple-A Indianapolis Indians of the International League, Kieschnick was called up on April 30, 2003, and spent the remainder of the season with the Brewers. Versatility was the key word as Kieschnick was utilized as a pitcher, designated hitter, pinch-hitter, and left fielder.

Kieschnick struggled on the mound, posting a 1-1 record with a 5.26 ERA, appearing in 42 games. In his 53 innings of work, he struck out 39 while walking only 13 batters. Things went well at the plate as he batted .300, with 12 runs batted in, and seven home runs in 70 at-bats. He also became the first player in major-league history to hit home runs as a pitcher, designated hitter, and pinch-hitter all in the same season.

Brewers Director of Scouting Jack Zduriencik wasn’t surprised about Kieschnick’s performance. “He earned it. He excelled at both positions in college, so it wasn’t a real stretch of the imagination to think that he might be able to do it in pro ball.”19

Teammate Glendon Rusch thought that what Kieschnick accomplished was remarkable. “I don’t think people realize how hard it is to be a major league player in the first place, and he did both (pitching and playing the outfield) and he did them well. It was awesome to be a part of.”20

Brewers pitching coach Mike Maddux played a big role in Kieschnick’s success, but he noticed that, “When he joined us last year, (2003) I guess you could say he was rushed up to the big leagues, and there’s a learning curve for everyone, but he stood on the other side of the plate, and he knows what it takes to get a batter out. I think his strength is his aggressiveness.”21

Brewers manager Ned Yost spoke highly of Kieschnick. “He’s a great competitor. He just gives you what he’s got every day. When you need an inning from him, he’ll give you one, then be willing to give you one more.”22

Yost had high hopes for Kieschnick in 2004. “What he did last year increased his value as a baseball player. Now, are we asking Brooks to be a better pitcher this year? Yeah, he’s got to be. He’s going to have to make it as a pitcher. I think he can do that. But, then again, in search for consistency out of the pen, we’ve got to take the guys who do the job.”23

Kieschnick began the 2004 season with the Brewers and was used as a pitcher and pinch-hitter. One of his best performances of the season came on April 28 against the Reds as he worked three hitless innings, recording three strikeouts in a game in which the Brewers overcame a 9-0 deficit to win, 10-9. He was taken out of the pitching rotation on July 2 because of shoulder tightness. He continued his role as a pinch hitter. On August 2, he had an MRI on his shoulder. The Brewers placed him on the 15-day disabled list on August 12, retroactive to August 9. He was sent to Indianapolis for a rehab assignment.

After pitching a scoreless inning for Indianapolis on September 1, he was activated off the disabled list on September 3, 2004. He pitched in eight games for the remainder of the season. With the Brewers in 2004, he recorded a .270 batting average with one home run in 63 at-bats. He appeared in 32 games on the mound, working 43 innings, posting a 3.77 ERA, striking out 28 while walking 13 batters.

On March 29, 2005, near the end of spring training, the Brewers released Kieschnick. Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said, “We needed to evaluate him as a pitcher instead of both. Brooks knew that.”24 Kieschnick commented, “They didn’t really say much about why they did it. I guess they want to go with younger, power arms.”25

The Houston Astros signed him to a minor-league contract on April 9. He split the season between Triple-A Round Rock of the Pacific Coast League, and Double-A Corpus Christi of the Texas League. His combined pitching stats were a 2-4 record, with a 5.12 ERA, pitching 65 innings, and he batted .327 with three home runs. He was released by the Astros on October 15, 2005. On December 26, 2005 he signed with the Baltimore Orioles, but he decided to retire on February 15, 2006.

Reflecting on his career, Kieschnick was content with the effort he gave, and especially attempting to stay in the major leagues by pitching. “Now when I turn 40, I won’t be lying awake wondering what I should have done. This has brought peace to the rest of my life.”26

After retiring from baseball, Kieschnick worked for Biomet, a medical device manufacturer that specializes in spinal implants. The tireless work ethic he had during his baseball career carried over in his new job. Co-worker Bart Vanlandingham commented about Kieschnick, “His customers love him. He’s persistent in what he does and works hard.”27

In September 2014, along with friends Ray Fuchs, Jaime Gonzales, and country music singer Charlie Robison, Kieschnick opened an establishment in San Antonio called the Alamo Icehouse. Kieschnick’s role at the bar is being a social person and helping to bring people there, but he believes the work ethic and drive he had during his baseball career is a must to make the bar/restaurant business a success.

Last revised: April 1, 2018



In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author drew on baseball data provided by



1 Email Brooks Kieschnick to Bill Nowlin, July 24, 2018.

2 Jonathan Mann, “Baseball Set to Retire Brooks Kieschnick’s No. 23 on Saturday.” ( March 27, 2009.

3 Ibid.

4 Bill Jauss, “Cubs get versatile No. 1 draft pick; Sox stick with pitching,” Chicago Tribune, June 4, 1993: 4: 4.

5 Ibid.

6 Ibid.

7 “Cubs sign No. 1 pick Kieschnick,” Chicago Tribune, July 23, 1993: 4-9.

8 Dave van Dyck, The Sporting News, August 2, 1993: 17.

9 “Kieschnick makes Cubs’ roster,” Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, March 27, 1996.

10 Barry Rozner, The Sporting News, April 7, 1997: 27.

11 Associated Press, “Cubs send Kieschnick back to Triple-A,” Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, March 27, 1997: 3B.

12 Barry Rozner. The Sporting News, September 15, 1997: 45.

13 David Haugh, “Remember Brooks Kieschnick, the Cubs power hitter who could also pitch?” Chicago Tribune. December 8, 2017. (

14 “Kieschnick takes a two-way road,” The Sporting News, March 3, 2003: 55.

15 Doug Miller, “Before Ohtani, Kieschnick did it all for Brewers.,”December 16, 2017.

16 “Kieschnick takes a two-way road.”

17 Peter Gammons, “Kieschnick impresses Brewers,” ( February 21, 2003.

18 Haugh.

19 Miller.

20 Ibid.

21 Dave Caldwell. “For Two-Way Player, It’s Perseverance,” New York Times. May 9, 2004.

22 Ibid.

23 Tom Haudricourt, “Kieschnick likes traveling two-way street,” JSOnline, March 8, 2004. A printout of this article is in Kieschnick’s player file at the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

24 Tom Haudricourt, “Not quite up to speed,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 30, 2005: C1.

25 Ibid.

26 Gammons.

27 Daniel Clay, “Where Are They Now? Baseball star Brooks Kieschnick,” The Daily Texan, March 30, 2015. (

Full Name

Michael Brooks Kieschnick


June 6, 1972 at Robstown, TX (USA)

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