Pat Neshek, vegan baseball player
Pat's skills were noticed at an early age and he was selected for the All-State team. He took the school record for stikeouts in a single game, in a season and in a career.
In 1998 aged 18 he had the opportunity of playing in the Major League but it was not until 2006 that he played for Minnesota Twins, which was his first Major League club. Soon established as a key player, in 2007 he was awarded the club's Dick Siebert Award for Upper Midwest Player of the Year.
Pat has an unusual pitching delivery which is believed to be due to an incident at high school when he was hit by a baseball. He's particularly effective against right-handed batters, which leeft him with a 0.181 batting average by the end of 2013.
He has had some outstanding periods of pitching; his first three appearances of 2008 resulted in one hit and no earned runs in 3 1/3 innings. Later that year he tore a ligament and missed the rest of the season.
In 2011 he joined San Diego Padres, and in 2012 moved to Baltimore Orioles. There he played some minor league games. Returning to the Major League in August 2012 he joined Oakland Athletics and he helped them take the American League West Championship by one game.
He joined Houston Astros in December 2014 and sayed with them until he signed for the Philidelpia Phillies in 2017.
In 2017 he was selected to play for the United States in the World Baseball Classic (read more here).
Now a vegan, this was not a diet he always adhered to. "I was doing things on a minor league budget of $20 a day and travelling all the time, so the best place to find food was next door to the hotel at the McDonald's. When I first met [my wife] she was like, 'I can't believe you eat that stuff!' That off-season we lived together, and she was like, 'Why don't you try this out and see how it feels?' I noticed when I got on the treadmill I didn't get tired as quick, and I started noticing more results."
By 2007 Pat had read 'The China Study', the story of a massive population study that had exposed the health consequences of eating animal products. "I decided to become a vegan and get rid of all the animal products -- meat and dairy. At first, it was basically just for the health benefits -- I was intrigued by the 2005 season when I cut a lot of that stuff out and got a lot better. It really changed my career, and I thought, 'This might be something that helps me take my career to the next level.' And it wasn't the main reason, but I like knowing everything I eat was served in a humane way."
Blood work endorsed
Pat has receive d a lot of support from his wife, who he says is great with food. "I'll have a granola and fruit smoothie in the morning, and for protein I'll throw a rice protein substitute in my smoothie...I just got my blood work back and everything checked out perfect. I think you have that in the back of your mind that maybe you're missing something [because of eating vegan]. It's pretty neat to know you don't have to use animal products and can still function -- most of my results had improved."
It's become clear to Pat that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important to success in games. "Being our relief pitcher means I'm coming in late in games and during close scores. It's really tough mentally. You have to get your sleep and take care of yourself and all that stuff - it's not a cakewalk. It's 220 days out of the year we're playing, and if you're not ready, somebody else is going to take your job."