August 26, 1996
Dave's contract, probably the only pro sports contract listing team sponsors, and the shortest.
The Dakota Rattlers line up card with Dave batting sixth!
Dave Gilbertson grew up on the North Dakota prairie dreaming of a successful career as a professional baseball player. Early on he developed an impressive pitching repertoire, becoming one of the only players in the Bismarck, ND Little League to deploy both a screwball and an eephus pitch.
Age caught up with him shortly after Little League and he eventually pursued a front-office job in minor league baseball out of high school, serving as Director of Promotions for the Dakota Rattlers in the independent Prairie League. Toward the end of the 1996 season, with the Rattlers firmly ensconced in 4th place in the 4 team league, the Rattlers manager called on Gilbertson to play right field, where all involved figured nobody would notice.
He started the game against the Moose Jaw Diamond Dogs, deciding to retire from the sport forever after a single inning of play. He was on-deck when the inning ended, resulting in a professional baseball record mirroring Moonlight Graham of “Field of Dreams” fame. The Rattlers went on to lose the game 18-0, a fate Gilbertson still claims likely could have been avoided had he been allowed to bat.
After waiting the mandatory five years, Gilbertson tried to get himself nominated for Hall of Fame induction. Amazingly, he did convince a member of the BBWAA to give him a single write-in vote for induction.
As he first learned shortly after Little League, Gilbertson was denied entry to the Baseball Hall of Fame because he wasn’t actually that good. He went on to write about his minor league experience in “Baseball in the Bad Lands: Stale Beers & Stale Careers,” which received universally pretty good reviews among family and close friends.