Nate McLouth (Trading Card DB)

Nate McLouth

This article was written by Warren Kent III

Nate McLouth (Trading Card DB)The year 2008 was supposed to be the coming-out party for Nate McLouth, then an outfielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He made his first All-Star team, captured his first Gold Glove, and tied for the NL lead with 46 doubles. But the party was short-lived. Due to injuries, McLouth never achieved that level of success again.

“It was frustrating,” said McLouth in a January 2024 phone interview from his home in Knoxville, Tennessee. “A handful of people get to retire on perfect terms. More have their careers end with injuries. I am appreciative of everything I have been through. I know I was lucky to accomplish everything I did.”

Despite a myriad of injuries, McLouth managed to play in the majors for 10 seasons (2005-2014), during which time he also had stints with Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Baltimore, and Washington.

Nathan Richard McLouth (rhymes with south) was born October 28, 1981, in Muskegon, Michigan. His parents were Rick and Pam McLouth, an accountant and homemaker, respectively. Rick’s parents were both from Western Michigan. Pam’s mother was from Bad Wiessee, Germany, and her father was from Arkansas.1

McLouth was the oldest of three boys, preceding Jake and Christopher. Jake, an All-State catcher at Whitehall (Michigan) High School, holds the school career record with 17 home runs, besting Nate by one. Jake played baseball for one season at Grand Rapids Community College before finishing his career at the University of Michigan, mostly as a DH.2 Dr. Christopher McLouth is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biostatistics at the University of Kentucky.3

“My parents were such a great influence and supportive of me and my two brothers,” McLouth said. “I don’t think through all the Little League, junior high, and high school years that they missed one of our games. Dad was always supportive of me, but he never once forced me to do anything baseball-related.”4

At Whitehall High, McLouth was a four-year starter on the baseball team (1997-2000) and led the Vikings to the Division 2 state finals in 1998.5

“I first saw Nate play in the juniors state tournament that was hosted by Whitehall,” said his coach, Warren Zweigle. “After watching him play in that tournament, I knew I was going to be in for a real treat.”6

In his four high school seasons, McLouth (who batted left and threw right) set a Michigan record by stealing 180 bases in 181 tries. He was also a two-time All-State player as a shortstop.7 Additionally, McLouth quarterbacked the football team to back-to-back West Michigan Conference titles in 1998 and 1999 and was the point guard for the basketball team.8

McLouth was named a USA Today Honorable Mention All-American in 1999, followed by honors as Michigan’s Co-Mr. Baseball9 and the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year in 2000. Locally, he was selected as the Muskegon area’s Male Student-Athlete of the Year in 2000.10

After his senior year, McLouth was named Player of the Year in Michigan.11 He had committed to the University of Michigan to play baseball. However, after the Pittsburgh Pirates selected him in the 25th round of the 2000 MLB June draft, McLouth signed with scout Duane Gustavson in August and turned pro instead.12

“I was looking forward to going to the University of Michigan, and it was a really hard decision,” McLouth said. “But it came down to, once the money became good enough, you would hate to say it was based on money. The Pirates had assured me they would include a college scholarship if things didn’t work out. That kind of made my decision much easier. Plus, I wanted to get a wood bat in my hands.”13

The Pirates sent the 18-year-old McLouth to Instructional League in the fall of 2000 and then to Florida for extended spring training in 2001. Eventually, he was called up to the Single-A Hickory (North Carolina) Crawdads of the Southern Atlantic League.14

“I remember when I was at Instructional League and an outfielder at Hickory got hurt,” McLouth said, “so I drove from Bradenton [Florida] to Hickory. When I saw their stadium (L.P. Frans Stadium), I said, ‘Whoa, it doesn’t get better than that.’

McLouth hit .285 and ended up Hickory’s team leader in runs; he was third in homers, RBIS, and stolen bases.15

“Overall, it went a lot better than I expected it to,” McLouth said. “Once I got going, I was excited because I stacked up talent-wise with anyone in that league.”16

After the season, The Sporting News listed McLouth as the second-ranked hitting prospect among outfielders in the low minor leagues, which included the entire MLB farm system except for Triple-A. The TSN website said, “A previously unheralded 2000 draft pick out of high school, McLouth’s Mcbat is Mcsweet any way you look at it.”17

The next two seasons were spent with the Lynchburg (Virginia) Hillcats, the organization’s High A club. At age 20, McLouth played in the Carolina League in 2002.18 He batted just .244 that year but hit his stride in 2003, raising his average to .300, scoring 85 runs, and stealing 40 bases in 44 chances.

McLouth moved up to the Double-A Altoona (Pennsylvania) Curve in 2004, when he hit .322 and led the Eastern League in doubles, runs, and hits.

“I always dreamed of playing Major League Baseball, probably from the first time I saw a game at Tiger Stadium when I was five years old,” McLouth said, “but I never had a good feeling that it would happen until Double-A. That’s when I knew I had a shot. In high school, you think you know, but you don’t know. If you look at the odds, if you look at the numbers, it’s very unlikely that you will make it.

In 2005, McLouth began the season with Triple-A Indianapolis of the International League. He was hitting .300 for the Indians with 34 steals when he got the call. In late June, the 23-year-old learned from Indianapolis manager Trent Jewett in the clubhouse after a 12-inning loss at Toledo that he was to fill a roster opening created when Pirate pitcher Oliver Pérez was placed on the 15-day disabled list.19

“One of the first things I did was I called my dad,” McLouth said. “I was in Toledo, and we had just finished a night game. I was not expecting it, not at all. I was confident [making the majors] would happen. But not that night.”

After spending five years in the Pirates’ minor-league system, the 5-foot-10, 190-pound McLouth made his big-league debut on June 29, 2005, vs. the Washington Nationals at RFK Stadium in D.C. In the top of the seventh, McLouth pinch-hit for pitcher Brian Meadows. Batting against Gary Majewski, McLouth lined out to centerfield on a 1-2 count.

“I remember just wanting to get [the first at-bat] over with,” McLouth said. “I had a lot of nervous energy. I was as nervous as you can possibly be. My senses were in overdrive. I noticed how green the grass was, how bright the lights were.

in his fourth pinch-hitting appearance, on August 12, McLouth picked up his first hit in the majors, a double down the left-field line off Roy Oswalt at Houston’s Minute Maid Park. The two-bagger also brought home McLouth’s first career RBI.

“I remember thinking, ‘This guy has a great fastball, a great changeup, and a super-slow curve ball,’” McLouth said. “He threw me a first-pitch fastball. I knew it was coming and thought I would stay back and hit it into right-center. But I was so late, I hit it to left field.”

Two nights later, he made his first start, in right field, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in an 8-0 win over the Astros. On August 23, McLouth made his PNC Park debut – and hit his first big-league home run, a two-run shot in the fourth inning off the Cardinals’ Jason Marquis. McLouth added a single in the Pirates’ 10-0 win.

“Oh yeah, I remember my first home run,” McLouth said. “I was feeling comfortable, well not really comfortable, but I no longer felt as overwhelmed as I was when I first came up. I hit a changeup over the fence in right-center field. The guy who caught it met me after the game to give me the ball. It’s in my office with the ball from my first hit.”

McLouth finished his first season with a .257 average in 41 games. His best offensive performance featured three hits, including two doubles, vs. the Diamondbacks on September 8 at home in an 8-7 win for the Pirates.

Regarding his first taste of The Show, McLouth said, “I learned that there is nothing guaranteed. It was awesome; it was fun, but it also took a lot of hard work.

McLouth made the team out of spring training in 2006 as a reserve outfielder. He played 106 games in his second MLB season (mostly in center and right), making 55 starts. He batted .233 with seven home runs and 16 RBIs.

McLouth was once again the fourth outfielder in 2007, playing all three outfield positions. He batted .258 with 13 home runs and 22 stolen bases while being caught just once. McLouth also had his first career two-homer game on August 22 at Coors Field with both homers off Josh Fogg.

The 2008 season was McLouth’s breakout year. As the starting center fielder, he began the season with a 19-game hitting streak (20 total games dating back to 2007), in which he batted .375 (30-for-80). He cooled off to .281 by the All-Star break, but with 19 home runs and 65 RBIs, he was named to the NL All-Star team for the first time.

In the All-Star Game, held July 15 at Yankee Stadium, McLouth entered the game in the fifth inning as a defensive replacement for Kosuke Fukudome in center field. The AL won the game 4-3 in 15 innings – but could have ended it in the 11th, except McLouth nailed Dioner Navarro at home to become the first outfielder in All-Star history to throw out a potential winning run at the plate in extra innings.20 Offensively, McLouth went 1-for-4 with a 12th-inning single off Joakim Soria.

“Playing at Yankee Stadium is indescribable,” McLouth said. “I mean, it’s Yankee Stadium. There’s this famous picture of Babe Ruth standing along the third-base line using the bat as support. I stood right in the spot. [That All-Star Game] was the highlight of my career.”

McLouth ended the season leading the NL with 46 doubles (tied with Lance Berkman) to go along with a .276 average and 26 home runs, 94 RBIs, 113 runs (fifth in the NL), and 23 stolen bases. More importantly, he won his first Gold Glove award for his 149 games in center field, posting a .997 fielding percentage with one error in 390 chances. He was the first Pirate to win a Gold Glove since Jay Bell in 1993 and the first Pirate outfielder to win one since Barry Bonds and Andy Van Slyke in 1992. Additionally, McLouth received the 2008 Roberto Clemente Award as “the Pirates player who best exemplifies the standard of excellence achieved by Clemente.

Unfortunately, the Pirates were no better than when he first made the team. For three of the four seasons, Pittsburgh was 67-95; in 2007, the team was 68-94.

“[Losing] wears on you,” McLouth said. “The season is long. You’re in the big leagues, yes, but losing is not fun. I was just hoping to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But it’s tough to win [in small-market towns].”

In February 2009, McLouth married Lindsay Rolen.21 As of 2024, they had two sons (Tucker 3, and Carson 5), and two dogs (ages 11 and 13).

McLouth was again the starting center fielder for the Pirates in 2009. Through 45 games, he batted .256 with nine home runs and 34 RBIs. Then on June 3, he was traded by Pittsburgh, which would go on to finish 62-99, to Atlanta, a team that would finish 86-76. In exchange, Atlanta sent Gorkys Hernandez, Jeff Locke, and Charlie Morton to the Pirates.

“I had no idea [about the trade],” McLouth said. “It wasn’t the trade deadline, and there was no talk about a trade. But it was a wake-up call for me [that baseball is a business]. I was really comfortable in Pittsburgh.”

McLouth’s Pirate teammates were also surprised.

“Wow,” second baseman Freddy Sanchez said, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I think the biggest thing was the shock factor. It’s a tough pill to swallow. Our No. 3 hitter just got taken away, the guy who leads our team in home runs and RBIs, and we were 6½ games out. We could still have been right there. I think we still can. But we’re all just kind of wondering right now … wondering what it is.”22

First baseman Adam LaRoche was even angrier: “There ain’t a guy in here who ain’t [ticked] off about it. It’s kind of like being with your platoon in a battle, and guys keep dropping around you. You keep hanging on, hanging on, and you’ve got to figure: How much longer till you sink? It’s fine. Heck with it. We’re not the GM. We don’t run the team. If they feel like it’s the best move for three or four years from now, great. Unfortunately, that does me no good. I’ve still got to be in here telling guys it’s going to be fine with Nate gone. Well, you can only do that for so long until guys just kind of … well, they know.”23

Once in Atlanta, McLouth batted .257 with 11 home runs and 36 RBIs. The Braves went 60-50 with their new center fielder and placed third in the NL East.

“I had a tough time adjusting to Atlanta,” McLouth said. “One day you are in one place, and the next day you are somewhere else. It took me a long time to think about that. From then, I had my head on a swivel about trades.”

McLouth spent the offseason in Kentwood, Michigan, where he worked out at a fitness club and began light hitting at an indoor facility five days a week in December. He finished by taking batting practice six days a week from mid-January until he left for spring training. 24

Atlanta Braves associate scout Bill Peterson, the owner of the indoor baseball facility, said, “He had a great offseason. He worked hard in his speed and agility drills and hitting six days a week. I know he headed out thinking he was prepared and primed for a big season. You can’t work any harder than Nate. He takes a month off and he’s right back trying to become a better player.”25

In 2010, McLouth’s first spring training with the Braves had him hoping for a shot at the postseason for the first time in his career. Ever the team player, McLouth switched his uniform number to accommodate Atlanta’s new closer, Billy Wagner. Wagner coveted 13, which he wore throughout his career, so McLouth gave it up and went with 24 after the popular Fox television series by the same name. He told David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he hoped to “parlay it into an appearance on 24.”26 That never happened.

The Braves made the postseason, but McLouth struggled. He hit just .190 while playing in only 85 games amid injuries. McLouth hit his first career walk-off home run vs. the Phillies on April 20, but on June 9, he collided with teammate Jason Heyward going after a fly ball. The collision resulted in an inside-the-park home run for Arizona’s Gerardo Parra. McLouth sustained a concussion and missed six weeks. Then, on July 27, Braves manager Bobby Cox told him that he was being sent to the Gwinnett Braves, Atlanta’s Triple-A affiliate.27

“It was probably the toughest time in my life because I, just, was lost,” McLouth said. “I wanted nothing more than to perform well and help the team win. To work hard every day and not be able to do that for such a long period of time was tough.”28

McLouth rehabbed at Triple-A Gwinnett, where he worked on shortening his stride in his swing and commanding the strike zone. The Braves recalled him on August 31 – a significant date because it made him eligible for the postseason roster – if the team made it there.29

The Braves did grab a wild card spot, giving McLouth his first taste of the postseason. In the NLDS, Atlanta fell to the eventual World Series champs, the San Francisco Giants, 3-1. McLouth went 1-for-2, getting a pinch-hit single in Game Two, a 5-4 Braves win.

The Braves again placed second in the NL East in 2011 but missed the postseason. McLouth, the opening-day center fielder for Atlanta for the second straight year, played just 81 games, posting a .228 average with four homers and 16 RBIs. Feeling significant discomfort in his left oblique,30 McLouth was placed on the 15-day disabled list on May 23.31 He remained on the DL until June 19 but returned there on July 29 with a lower abdominal strain.32 On August 5, it was revealed that McLouth had a sports hernia and would be out for the remainder of the season.33

After the season, he became a free agent and rejoined the Pirates, signing a one-year deal worth $1.75 million. McLouth said, “It’s a no-brainer” and that it was “the easiest decision I’ve ever made in my life.”34 He made the team as a reserve outfielder but couldn’t rekindle the magic from 2008. Through 34 games, McLouth batted .140. Pittsburgh released him on May 31.

Five days later, however, the Baltimore Orioles signed him and sent him to Norfolk, their Triple-A affiliate.35 He was called up on August 4 and inserted into the lineup as the everyday left fielder. In 55 games for the O’s, McLouth batted .268 with seven home runs and 18 RBIs. Baltimore placed second in the AL East with a 93-69 record, good enough to earn a wild card, the franchise’s first postseason appearance since 1997.36

In the wild-card game, the Orioles beat the Texas Rangers 5-1. McLouth scored the game’s first run when he reached on an error, stole second, and came around on J.J. Hardy’s RBI single. He would add an RBI single in the seventh inning and a sacrifice fly in the ninth inning.

The ALDS was a matchup with the AL East champion Yankees. McLouth had a solid series, batting .318 (7-for-22) with a double, a home run, and three RBIs. His extra-base hits came in Game Four, a 2-1 extra-inning victory for the Orioles that tied the five-game series at two games apiece. However, New York won Game Five, 3-1, to advance to the ALCS vs. Detroit.

 “The experience in Baltimore was awesome,” McLouth said. “Baltimore, like Pittsburgh, is a great sports town. It was so satisfying because we had no stars. None. Zero. Adam Jones was our best player. Regular fans knew no one from that team. We had momentum building all year. I had never experienced that type of adrenaline. It was unbelievable.”

That winter, McLouth signed a one-year, $2 million contract to stay with Baltimore. His new deal provided performance bonuses beginning at $50,000 each for 300 and 350 plate appearances, and $100,000 each for 400, 450, 500, and 550 plate appearances.37

Healthy once again in 2013, McLouth played his most games (146) since his All-Star season. He also stole a career-best 30 bases (ninth in the AL) to go with 31 doubles, 12 homers, and 36 RBIs while posting a .258 average. During the season, McLouth hit his only career grand slam (August 2 vs. the Mariners) and his second career walk-off home run (May 21 vs. the Yankees). However, the Orioles could not sustain playoff form, falling to third place in the AL East with an 85-77 record.

After the season, McLouth, by then 32, became a free agent. On December 12, the Washington Nationals signed him to a two-year deal worth $10.75 million, plus a third-year option.38 Washington won the NL East with a 96-66 record in 2014. However, McLouth never got on track, batting just .173 with one home run and seven RBIs before his season ended on August 1, when he was diagnosed with a torn labrum in his right shoulder, resulting in season-ending surgery.39 The Nationals, without McLouth, would lose 3-games-to-1 in the NLDS to the Giants.40

In the spring of 2015, he played in only two Grapefruit League games because of a sore shoulder and was on the disabled list the entire season. He became a free agent in November.41

When no teams came calling, McLouth hung it up after a 10-year big-league career. He finished with a .247 average, 101 home runs (including 12 leadoff homers), 333 RBIs, 191 doubles, and 133 stolen bases.

“You think about the process to come back,” McLouth said. “The rehabbing. The spring training. The possibility of playing at Triple-A. For me, that was not appealing.”

It’s been nearly 10 years since McLouth last played baseball, but with two young sons, he said he is never far away from a bat and a ball.

“I spend a lot of my time throwing to five-year-olds,” McLouth said. “I’ve had some opportunities to coach at the professional level, but there’s a lot of travel, and having kids, I love watching them do whatever they want to do, and it doesn’t have to be baseball. I love being a dad.”

“Everybody knows that Nate McLouth was the best baseball player to ever play at Whitehall,” said Zweigle, his high school coach. “However, far fewer know that he was also the most dedicated, hardest player to ever play at Whitehall.”42

Even given his dedication and effort, McLouth, who was inducted into the Muskegon (Michigan) Area Sports Hall of Fame in 2018,43 said he realizes he lived a baseball life that others only dream of.

“At the time you are going through your baseball career, you never have a chance to reflect,” McLouth said. “Now, I realize how long-shot the odds are. Here I am coaching five-year-olds. 150 kids. It’s just one small league in a corner of a city in a huge country in the entire world. The chance is almost zero that any of these kids will play in the major leagues. It’s a cool thing that it happened. Based on sheer numbers, I realize how lucky I am.”

Last revised: April 23, 2024



Special thanks to Nate McLouth for his memories. And to his high school coach Warren Zweigle and his brother Christopher for helping the author connect with Nate.

This biography was reviewed by Rory Costello and David Bilmes and fact-checked by Ray Danner.

Photo credit: Trading Card Database.



Everything is unless otherwise noted.

Quotes are from a 40-minute phone interview with Nate McLouth (January 30, 2024) unless otherwise noted.



1 Christopher McLouth, email correspondence with the author, February 20, 2024.

2 Ann Arbor Pioneer High School Athletics. Retrieved February 20, 2024.

3 University of Kentucky College of Public Health. Retrieved Feb. 20, 2024.

4 Jim Moyes. “Whitehall’s Nate McLouth getting healthy, looking for next big-league opportunity as a free agent.” Muskegon Chronicle. November 2, 2011. Retrieved August 21, 2023.

5 “Nate McLouth reassigned by Pittsburgh Pirates.” Muskegon Chronicle, May 30, 2012. Retrieved August 21, 2023.

6 Warren Zweigle, email correspondence with the author, Jan. 16, 2024.

7 Mark Opfermann. “Ex-major leaguer highlights 2018 induction class for Muskegon sports hall.” Muskegon Chronicle, December 14, 2017. Retrieved Aug. 27, 2023.

8 Moyes, “Whitehall’s Nate McLouth getting healthy, looking for next big-league opportunity as a free agent.”

9 Opfermann, “Ex-major leaguer highlights 2018 induction class for Muskegon sports hall.”

10 Tom Kendra. “Whitehall’s Nate McLouth would love to make up for miserable season with a memorable postseason.” Muskegon Chronicle, October 7, 2010. Retrieved Aug. 21, 2023.

11 Moyes, “Whitehall’s Nate McLouth getting healthy, looking for next big-league opportunity as a free agent.”

12 Moyes, “Whitehall’s Nate McLouth getting healthy, looking for next big-league opportunity as a free agent.”

13 Moyes, “Whitehall’s Nate McLouth getting healthy, looking for next big-league opportunity as a free agent.”

14 “Whitehall native turns heads with ‘Mcbat’.” White Lake Beacon. November 26, 2001. Retrieved Aug. 21, 2023.

15 “Whitehall native … ”

16 “Whitehall native … ”

17 “Whitehall native … ”

18 “McLouth’s play improves at advanced Class A level.” White Lake Beacon. July 15, 2002. Retrieved Aug. 21, 2023.

19 Greg Means. “McLouth gets call to Majors.” White Lake Beacon. July 2, 2005. Retrieved Aug. 21, 2023.

20 Jason Stark. “This All-Star Game almost didn’t count.” July 16, 2008. Retrieved Aug. 21, 2023.

21 Moyes, “Whitehall’s Nate McLouth getting healthy, looking for next big-league opportunity as a free agent.”

22 “Pirates light candle, vent frustration.” June 5, 2009. Retrieved Aug. 21, 2023.

23 “Pirates light candle, vent frustration.”

24 Steve Vedder. (February 22, 2010). “Whitehall’s Nate McLouth hopes Braves contend in first full season with team.” Muskegon Chronicle. February 22, 2010, Retrieved Aug. 21, 2023.

25 Vedder, “Whitehall’s Nate McLouth hopes Braves contend in first full season with team.”

26 Vedder, “Whitehall’s Nate McLouth hopes Braves contend in first full season with team.”

27 Tom Kendra. “Whitehall’s Nate McLouth would love to make up for miserable season with a memorable postseason.” Muskegon Chronicle. October 7, 2010. Retrieved Aug. 21, 2023.

28 Carroll Rogers Walton. “Nate McLouth making a comeback in center field.” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. September 16, 2010. Retrieved February 26, 2024.

29 Walton, “Nate McLouth making a comeback in center field.”

30 Dave O’Brien. (May 22, 2011). “McLouth hurt as punchless Braves lose again.” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. May 22, 2011. Retrieved February 26, 2024.

31 Associated Press (May 23, 2011). “Braves put Nate McLouth on DL.”

32 Jeff Sullivan. “Nate McLouth Injury: Braves Outfielder on DL With Abdominal Strain.” July 29, 2011. Retrieved February 26, 2024.

33 Associated Press. “Nationals put McLouth on 15-day disabled list.” August 4, 2014. Retrieved February 26, 2024.

34 “Whitehall native … ”

35 Eduardo A Encina. “Orioles purchase contract of outfielder Nate McLouth, designate Endy Chavez for assignment.” Baltimore Sun. August 4, 2012. Retrieved August 27, 2023.

36 James Wagner. “Nate McLouth’s career has taken him from all-star to Class AAA to a talented Nats outfield.” Washington Post. March 6, 2014. Retrieved Aug. 27, 2023.

37 Scott Brandenburg. “Whitehall native Nate McLouth happy to be back in Baltimore.” Muskegon Chronicle. December 5, 2012. Retrieved Aug. 27, 2023.

38 Wagner, “Nate McLouth’s career has taken him from all-star to Class AAA to a talented Nats outfield.”

39 “Washington Nationals – TeamReport.” Reuters. September 14, 2014. Retrieved Aug. 27, 2023.

40 Bill Ladson. “Sources: McLouth likely out for rest of ‘15.” August 26, 2015. Retrieved February 26, 2024.

41 Ladson, “Sources: McLouth likely out for rest of ‘15.”

42 Warren Zweigle, email correspondence with the author, Jan. 16, 2024.

43 “Ex-major leaguer highlights 2018 induction class for Muskegon sports hall.” Muskegon Chronicle. December 14, 2017. Retrieved Aug. 27, 2023.

Full Name

Nathan Richard McLouth


October 28, 1981 at Muskegon, MI (USA)

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