Obscure Spotlight: Mark Portugal

markportugalMark Portugal has got to be one of the greatest athletes to ever share a name with a geographic location (More on Miguel Cairo at a later date). The Norwalk, California native made his Major League debut in 1985 for the Twins, who signed Portugal five years earlier as an amateur free agent.

I always remember Portugal for his failure to run out this single against the Dodgers. Raul Mondesi had a hose from right, he gets Portugal here by a step:

Portugal’s best years came as a Houston Astro, from 1989-1993, and his best year, 1993, saw him win 18 games for Houston with a 2.77 ERA. He finished sixth in the National League Cy Young voting that year. He never made an All-Star game, but did win the National League Silver Slugger award for a pitcher in 1994, his first season with the Giants, even despite getting robbed of that single.

He finished out his career on a few different teams. He switched organizations four times in his final five seasons, finally calling it quits after a single year with Boston in 1999. All told, Portugal had a 15-year Major League pitching career. His record stands at 109-95, with a 4.03 ERA. Not great numbers, but good enough to keep him around for a while in the Majors, and make a good Obscure Athlete out of him!


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