For Pete's Sake

Ten things you didn’t know about new Royal Ben Zobrist

After hitting a home run last Friday, Ben Zobrist was greeted by Billy Butler.
After hitting a home run last Friday, Ben Zobrist was greeted by Billy Butler. The Associated Press

Here are 10 things you may not have known about the newest Royal, Ben Zobrist.

▪ 1. Since the start of the 2009 season, he has the fourth-most walks in the majors with 537. According to Baseball Reference, that trails Joey Votto (616), Jose Bautista (589) and Prince Fielder (553).

▪ 2. Zobrist planned to attend Calvary Bible College in Kansas City after graduating from Eureka (Ill.) High School in 2001. But a coach convinced him to spend $50 to attend a tryout for some small colleges looking to fill roster spots. That led to a scholarship at Olivet Nazarene University in Illinois. He helped Olivet to NAIA World Series appearances in 2002 and 2003 before transferring to Dallas Baptist University. Zobrist was inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame in 2014.

▪ 3. Zobrist spent the first nine seasons of his career with Tampa Bay before joining the A’s this year. He left as the Rays’ career leader in walks (542) and doubles (229).

▪ 4. Zobrist has not committed an error in 33 games at second base this season and has a 62-game errorless streak as a second baseman dating back to June 19, 2014.

▪ 5. His wife, Julianna, is a Christian alternative recording artist who has released two albums. Ben and Julianna wrote a book called “Double Play: Faith, Family, Music, Baseball.”

▪ 6. In that book, Ben talked about how anxiety issues for a time left him worried he would pass out on the field.

▪ 7. In his career, Zobrist has played every position except pitcher and catcher. This season, he has made 33 starts at second base, 23 in left field, four at designated hitter and two in right field.

▪ 8. Zobrist had his sixth straight season of 70-plus walks last year, which is the longest current streak in the majors.

▪ 9. While with the Rays, Zobrist once had a close encounter with an opossum on the field during a game in Oakland.

▪ 10. Last year, Zobrist was selected as the Rays’ MVP by the Tampa Bay Chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America after batting .272 with 10 home runs and 52 RBIs in 146 games. He added 75 walks for a .354 on-base percentage.

To reach Pete Grathoff, call 816-234-4330 or send email to pgrathoff@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @pgrathoff.

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