By Tracy Ringolsby
May 24, 2004
CINCINNATI–For Ben Petrick, once considered a key part of the Rockies’ long-term success, playing the game of baseball lost its luster. It had become a physical and mental challenge.
Petrick, 27, announced his retirement last week and disclosed that doctors diagnosed Parkinson’s Disease in him prior to the 2000 season.
Petrick said he did not feel the medical problem affected his ability to play, but said there was a mental battle. He said he finally decided that in the long term he would be better off with the reduced medical dosage necessary for a normal lifestyle, as opposed to the amount of medicine he took to play the game.
“I was not enjoying playing as much as I used to,” Petrick, the Rockies’ second-round draft choice in 1995, said by telephone from Oregon, where he lives. “I began to wonder if it was worth the time and medication. I felt it is time to step back and reorganize my life. I still love the game, but I don’t love playing it as much. I have other things I want to do.”
Petrick appeared in 197 games at the big-league level with the Rockies from 1999-2003, compiling a .264 average. He was traded to Detroit for righthander Adam Bernero last July.
Petrick was released by the Tigers earlier this season, and signed with the Padres. After hitting .225 in 24 games with Triple-A Portland, Petrick made the decision to move on.
Petrick, the Oregon high school football and baseball player of the year his senior season, said he intended to go to college, and get into coaching at the high school or college level. His father, who also has Parkinson’s Disease, was a longtime small-college football coach and athletic director in Oregon.
Petrick said he found out he had Parkinson’s when he had medical tests because of dexterity problems he had in his left hand in the Arizona Fall League following the 1999 season. He said the disease has affected the dexterity on the left side of his body, but medication counteracted that.
He said a residual effect of the initial medicine he took was a loss of focus, but he changed medicines two years ago. “With the new medicine I wasn’t feeling that,” he said. “It’s not that big a deal. I’ve been dealing with it myself for five years.”