Benet grad McInerney faces uncertain baseball future
For the last three years Pat McInerney awoke every morning as a professional baseball player.
One phone call changed that.
The 2013 Benet graduate -- a minor-leaguer in the Milwaukee Brewers organization -- was released last week as part of the cost-cutting measures being seen throughout Major League Baseball due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the suspended season.
With little revenue being generated, McInerney's release is a symbol of the tough decisions being made by MLB teams as the future remains an unknown.
"Competitive sports have been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember," McInerney said. "It's going to be strange to be without it."
Reports suggested that up to 30 players were released by the Brewers on Thursday, a staggering number that's being repeated throughout the league. McInerney received a phone call Thursday morning notifying him of the decision.
McInerney knew this moment was a possibility but it still stunned him after a lifetime of playing baseball.
"You brace yourself about that kind of call, but the hardest part for me was calling the people that have supported me -- my family, my former coaches," he said. "Those are the phone calls and texts that are really tough because people latch on to your career and want to see you do real well."
The East Suburban Catholic Conference player of the year in 2013 for conference champion Benet, McInerney accepted a scholarship to play baseball at the University of Illinois. McInerney also could have played college basketball after a four-year varsity run with the Redwings.
McInerney started 168 games in four seasons with the Illini. The first baseman went undrafted in the 2017 MLB amateur draft but signed with the Brewers as a free agent.
After spending the remainder of the 2017 season in the Arizona rookie league, McInerney split time in 2018 with the Class A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and Carolina Mudcats.
McInerney played the entire 2019 season with the Mudcats, batting .234 with 10 home runs and 34 RBI. He was enjoying a solid spring training when the pandemic shut down baseball and sent McInerney back home to the Chicago suburbs.
"Through my whole baseball career I continued to get better and improve," he said. "The last couple months I've been working out at Benet with (fellow Benet graduate) Joe Boyle. I was super lucky to have him help me stay in shape."
The day after his release, McInerney posted an emotional farewell to competitive sports on social media. He'd entertain future playing opportunities but he knows it's a longshot.
Minor league baseball is contracting and there are too many players looking for work. And with a new crop of talent arriving in the upcoming draft, opportunities will be few.
As a 25-year-old Class A player, the writing is on the wall.
"I would love to play if another team reached out to me in the near future but I just think it's pretty unlikely," he said. "Everyone's trying to get rid of people and cut costs, and with no minor league season it's going to be hard to latch on with teams."
Here's the good news ... McInerney earned a double degree at Illinois in Business Process Management and Marketing. Between the contacts he's developed at Benet, Illinois and professional baseball, his future looks just fine.
He may even stay in baseball through coaching.
"I have some time to think about it but I might get involved with coaching," he said. "I'm not exactly sure what I want to do with the degree but there are a lot of options.
"I'm very lucky to be a college graduate because a lot of the minor leaguers being released don't have that," he said. "Whatever it is I do, I'd like it to be something I can compete in. That part of me is still going to be around."