||Two Bulls Win Gold In Sydney
Two Durham Bulls team members played for gold at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. Infielder Brent Abernathy was in the starting line-up at second base, along with Pat Borders as starting catcher. Both men have been part of the Durham Bulls roster this season.
|The two men made the final cut of 24 players to travel to the Games and play for Tommy Lasorda, former coach of the L.A. Dodgers for two decades. At 73 years old, Lasorda led Borders, Abernathy and the rest of the Americans to the U.S.’s first gold medal in baseball since it became a full Olympic sport in 1992.
In the Olympic games, each country’s baseball team played the other seven entrants once in a round-robin tournament. The two top teams played for the gold and silver while the semi-final losers played for the bronze. Team USA walked away with the gold in a 4-0 shut out Cuba had been expected to win, while the Cubans had to settle for silver. South Korea took home the bronze.
The American team was made up of major and minor league players and many critics wondered if they could get the job done. The team has usually been comprised of college players, but other countries have culled their best talent, the Mark McGwires and other such greats.
| Pat Borders
Durham Bulls Catcher
|Pat Borders, the oldest member of the American squad at 37, signed on with the Tampa Bay Devil Ray club and played with the Durham Bulls for the 2000 season. A veteran of 12 major league seasons, Tampa Bay is the eighth organization of his career. Borders was previously best known for playing with the Toronto Blue Jays. He was named MVP of the World Series with Toronto in 1992. When named to the Olympic team in August, Borders had a .276 batting average, 12 homeruns and 54 RBI. He was taken off the Bulls roster on September 1 to go to Sydney.
Borders was spiked at home in the round-robin game against Cuba but had an RBI double in the Wednesday, September 27, gold medal game, a divine retribution. He doubled home the first run off Cuban pitcher Jose Ibar in the fifth inning. Team USA Pitcher Ben Sheets only allowed three hits during the entire game.
Infielder Brent Abernathy started his stint with the Bulls only a few weeks before Lasorda called to Australia. He was acquired by Tampa Bay on August 1 in a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays under which he played for the Syracuse Skychiefs. Tampa Bay immediately sent him to Durham to play for the Bulls. Turning 23 last Saturday on the night Team USA lost its only round-robin game to Cuba, Abernathy crossed home plate four times during the Olympics, including one run in the gold medal game. Abernathy’s record with the Bulls is .286 batting average, one homerun, and 11 RBI.
Durham Bulls Infielder
|In Sunday night’s game against Australia, Abernathy broke one Team USA Olympic baseball record and tied two others. Abernathy went 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles and three RBI and was the key to the USA’s 14-hit attack. Those two doubles moved his total to five, breaking the old Team USA single Olympics total of four, set by Mark Kotsay and Travis Lee in 1996. Abernathy’s four hits in the Australia game tied the USA single Olympic game record, set by Jacque Jones and Lee in 1996, and Will Clark in 1984. Abernathy also tied the mark for doubles in a game with two, set by five players – the last being A.J. Hinch in 1996.
Another Devil Ray joined Borders and Abernathy in Sydney. Bobby Seay pitches for the Tampa Bay’s AA team in Orlando and served as relief pitcher for the Olympic team. He gained notice of U.S.A. baseball when playing on the American team for the Pan Am Games when he appeared as relief in two games. He signed with Tampa Bay in 1996 but has been riddled with injuries. He pitched relief for a short time in the U.S.’s opener against Japan.
The U.S. Olympic team went 6-1 in the round-robin and went on to win the final against Cuba. Previously, Team USA took home the bronze in Atlanta in 1996. Team USA had never played in the gold medal round before the 2000 Games.