When it comes to hanging up the cleats, sometimes, the cleats are dusted off and brought back into the rotation.
Even at the age of 57.
Erik Pappas returned to the diamond after joining Greece in the European Championship as the team’s backup catcher and first baseman. It’s quite the arrival for him as he said previously he wasn’t playing any baseball.
Back in March of 2015, he told Baseball America he wasn’t exactly taking the field in his spare time in between being a stock trader.
“I was playing absolutely no baseball,” Pappas said. “I had no interest in playing in those over-30 leagues. I heard about the Olympics and Greece maybe having a team about five years ago, and thought, “That’s great. I’ll be 38.’ I didn’t think the team would concern me.”
He didn’t play in Greece’s 14-1 loss to Spain, but certainly inspired many.
During his stint with the Greek Olympic team, Pappas told The New York Times’ Tyler Kepner in 2004 that playing for a team in Europe comes with a big responsibility. You’re essentially introducing a sport to an entire country.
”We have to teach them how to play the game the right way and get the fans excited,” said Erik Pappas, a former major league catcher who claimed to know four Greek words. ”Hopefully, they can start playing at 5 years old and be no different than us. But they have to start at that young age.”
Pappas, who admittedly doesn’t know much about the Greek language, spent time on that team with Clay Bellinger, former big-league player and father of former NL MVP, Cody Bellinger.
Pappas spent two seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals and one with the Chicago Cubs. During his 1993 campaign with the Cardinals, Pappas had a 16-game hitting streak which was the first for a catcher in 14 years.
Across those three MLB years, he totaled 533 plate appearances, slashing .242/.342/.298 with 70 hits and 55 RBI as a catcher and right fielder.