This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com
In the mid to late 1990’s, Aaron Cook and Kevin Youkilis were the pride of north eastern Ohio high school baseball. Though they took very different routes to the big leagues, the two stand outs faced off at the earliest stages of their careers and at the highest level of competitive baseball. Aaron Cook, the Colorado Rockies pitcher and product of Hamilton High School, turns 32 years old today!
Aaron Cook was born on February 8th 1979 in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, but spent his high school years in Ohio. He dominated the high school hitters, and allowed just one home run during his four years. Coincidentally enough, the only home run he allowed was to the future Boston Red Sox infielder(sometimes outfielder) Kevin Youkilis. More than a decade later, they’d meet again.
Aaron Cook has spent his entire career with the Colorado Rockies. In an August 2008 issue of Baseball Digest, George Vass wrote about other players who have spent their entire careers with one team. Click here to check it out!
Cook was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the second round of the 1997 June Amateur Draft from Hamilton High School and spent the better part of five seasons climbing the minor league ranks alongside future MLB players like Chone Figgins, Juan Pierre, Matt Holliday and Garrett Atkins. He first reached the big leagues in 2002 and stayed for most of 2003 with the club in the bullpen and making occasional starts.
By August of 2004, Cook had established himself as a solid major league pitcher before experiencing dizziness during a start against the Cincinnati Reds. Doctors discovered he had blood clot in his pitching shoulder and he subsequently missed the rest of the season. Following surgery and his road to recover, he returned to the mound almost a year later. Down the stretch in 2005, Cook won 7 games and had a 3.67 ERA in 83.1 innings over thirteen starts.
Over the next three seasons, Cook performed well enough to dispel any concerns about his health. He averaged 11 wins with an ERA around 4.10 during 2006-2008. His peak came in 2008 when he had a sub 4.00 ERA and 16 wins. That same year he threw three scoreless innings in the All-Star Game, his only appearance in the mid summer classic to date.
During the 2007 season, Cook and Youkilis faced off again. In their first official at bat since their high school days, Youkilis hit a grounder back to him. In their second match up on June 17th, 2007, Youkilis roped a double to drive in Julio Lugo in a tight scoreless game. The run was key, as the Red Sox went on to win 2-1. Cook struck Youkilis out in his next at bat and finished 1 for 4 against the right handed pitcher.
Cook pitched against the Red Sox again in the 2007 World Series, but didn’t face Youkilis. He pitched well enough to win, but was on the losing end of a 4-3 series ending Game 4.
With 69 wins in nine seasons with the Rockies, Cook is number one all time for franchise victories. He ranks among the best for many franchise records, trailing only Ubaldo Jimenez in several categories.
Also Born Today:
Walter “Hoot” Evers(b. 1921) played 12 seasons in the big leagues with five different teams. He appeared in one game during the 1941 season before leaving for a four year tour with the military during World War II. He returned in 1946 and played a half season before breaking his ankle. He recovered by 1947 and had his greatest stretch with the Detroit Tigers from 1948-1950. He passed away in 1991 at the age of 69.
James “Bug” Holliday(b. 1867) played for the Cincinnati Reds for a decade between 1889 and 1898. His career began in 1885, however, as he became the first player in history to make his major league debut during the postseason. He played the outfield after the White Stockings needed another player during the World Series against the St. Louis Browns, which ended in a tie. In 2006, more than 100 years later, Mark Kiger of the Oakland Athletics became the second player in history to make his debut during the postseason.