James Jason Mecir was born on May 16, 1970 in Queens, New York. Despite being born with a club foot, he became a Major League pitcher, making 474 appearances for 5 teams in a 10-year career. Mecir spent 4 ½ years with the Oakland A’s and is portrayed in Michael Lewis’s bestselling book and the movie about that team, Moneyball.
Mecir was drafted by the Seattle Mariners from Eckerd College in the 3rd round of the 1991 amateur draft. His first big-league game [for Seattle] was against the Yankees in 1995. He played for the Seattle Mariners for one year, then went on to the World Series Champions New York Yankees in 1996 and 1997, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays from 1998 to 2000, the Oakland Athletics from 2000 to 2004, before spending the last year of his career with the Marlins. Mecir announced his retirement in 2005 following the Marlins’ last game of the season.
- In 2003, Jim Mecir received the Tony Conigliaro Award. This national award was instituted in 1990 by the Boston Red Sox to honor the memory of their former star Tony Conigliaro. It is given annually to a Major League Baseball player who best overcomes an obstacle and adversity through the attributes of spirit, determination and courage that were trademarks of Conigliaro. The reason Mecir was given the award is that he was born with a club foot; despite several childhood surgeries that enabled him to walk, he was left with a right leg that was one inch shorter than his left leg and a right calf that was only half the size of his left calf. The namesake of this award, Tony Conigliaro, had his career tragically shortened when he was hit in the face by a pitch at Fenway Park on August 18, 1967. After missing the rest of the 1967 season and all of 1968, he made a dramatic comeback in 1969, homering on opening day. He hit 20 home runs in 1969, winning The Sporting News Comeback Player of the Year Award. The following season, he had career highs in home runs with 36 and RBIs with 116, but vision problems continued to persist; his performance fell off, and he was never the same player. After a final comeback attempt in 1975, Conigliaro retired at age 30. A special panel is composed of the media, representatives of the commissioner, and the two leagues’ offices. The selection is made by Tony’s brothers Billy and Richie, and a fan. Announcement of the award is made at the annual major league winter meetings in December and the formal presentation takes place at the Boston Baseball Writers Association dinner in January.