Where Are They Now? Former Colorado Rockies C Danny Ardoin
By Bobby DeMuro
Feb 18, 2014; Port St Lucie, FL, USA; New York Mets bullpen catcher D. Racaniello (54) prepares to throw a baseball in during practice drills during spring training at Tradition Field. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
The catcher caught on with the Colorado Rockies for two seasons after a long minor league stint, and had the greatest success of his career in Denver.
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Danny Ardoin had the best big league years of his entire career with the Colorado Rockies between 2005 and 2006, and while it may not sound like much (he slashed .216/.300/.326) he was a classic veteran catcher dealing with pitchers first and worried about hitting second.
He had a decent amount of power (he ended up hitting six homers and 10 doubles for the Rockies in 248 irregular at-bats in 2005), and he played 115 of his total 165 big league games in Denver in those two years.
Considering he was drafted in 1995, and his career didn’t end until 2009, Ardoin beat all the odds in professional baseball — and that’s actually kind of where his numbers and story get really fascinating.
Ardoin played a total of 165 big league games (488 plate appearances) over five seasons (2000, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2008) for the Twins, Rangers, Rockies, Orioles, and Dodgers. He was a career .206/.296/.307 big league hitter (he overcame the Mendoza Line as a defense-first backup catcher!), and got 87 career base knocks. He debuted in 2000 as a 25-year old, got four hits in 40 plate appearances, and then didn’t appear in the big leagues again for four seasons. Man… the patience.
Oh, yeah, about those four seasons in between big league appearances — and the vast majority of the rest of his time in pro baseball: Ardoin was one of the closest guys you’re going to find to a real-life Crash Davis (except for the fact that unlike Crash, Ardoin got several tastes of big league baseball).
Ardoin played fifteen years in the minor leagues, appearing for affiliates of the Athletics, Twins, Royals, Rangers, Rockies, Astros, Cardinals, and Dodgers. He collected 3,950 minor league plate appearances over those 15 years, slashing .254/.352/.392 (which is pretty respectable for a catcher!) with 84 career minor league home runs.
He started his career in Medford, Oregon in 1995 after being drafted by the A’s out of McNeese State University in Louisiana in the fifth round that summer, and then stopped in Modesto, California; Visalia, California; Huntsville, Alabama; Vancouver; Sacramento; Salt Lake City; Edmonton; Tulsa; Omaha; Oklahoma City; Colorado Springs; Modesto (again, different organization); Round Rock, Texas; Memphis; Las Vegas; and finally, in 2009, he ended his career as a 34-year old in AAA Albuquerque (then in the Dodgers’ organization).
I’m halfway surprised that Ardoin never got into coaching after his playing career.
Considering a catcher with that much experience both at the plate and in dealing with pitchers would almost automatically make a very, very strong manager.
He didn’t do that, though — from what I can tell he’s actually never coached professional baseball (even as a way to finish out his career in the game right after he hung up his playing spikes). Instead, he’s the director of business development for a hospice agency in Louisiana, back where he grew up.
That’s pretty awesome. Whether on the business or cares side of it, being around hospices is not an easy thing to do, and it’s pretty cool that he’s thrown himself into that line of work after baseball. It’s also pretty cool that he didn’t coach out the rest of his life in the game. The minor league grind is real, and it’s brutal, and even the Major League grind is tough in the sense of being far away from home and usually away from loved ones and family members.
At 165 career big league games behind the plate, Ardoin is actually in the top 1,000 catchers in big league history. That’s pretty damn cool — you don’t get there by accident — and it’s something no one can ever take away. Considering his long minor league road, too (and the four years between his first big league stint and his second one), Ardoin’s is a very unique and cool story of perseverance.