All-Time MLB Players From Lafayette: Paul Bako
There have been a number of individuals from Lafayette, and the Acadiana area, that have played in Major League Baseball over the years.
Obviously, the entire state of Louisiana has produced even more.
As a matter of fact, 246 people born in the state of Louisiana have appeared in a Major League Baseball game, beginning in 1874, with John Peters of New Orleans, who played 11 years, with the likes of the Chicago White Stockings, Milwaukee Grays, Providence Grays, Buffalo Bisons, and Pittsburgh Alleghenys.
All summer, we’ll preview a player from the state of Louisiana that appeared in Major League baseball, starting with players from Lafayette, before spotlighting players from the Acadiana area, and then a few from the state itself.
Yesterday, we spotlighted Kevin Morgan.
Today, we feature Paul Bako.
Born in Lafayette in 1972, Bako, a left-handed hitting catcher, played 12 seasons in Major League Baseball, from 1998-2009, becoming the seventh person born in Lafayette to appear in the big leagues.
After playing his high school baseball at Lafayette High School, and his college baseball at UL, which was then known as the University of Southwestern Louisiana, Bako was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 5th round of the 1993 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft.
Before attending UL, Bako was drafted by the Cleveland Indians out of high school, but chose not to sign.
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Bako played for the Reds' minor league affiliate in Billings, Montana in 1993, hitting a .314 with 4 home runs and 30 runs batted in.
After four more years in the Reds' system, Bako was traded to the Detroit Tigers in November of 1997.
Interestingly, pitcher Donne Wall, another former Cajun player, was traded with Bako to the Reds, in exchange for Melvin Nieves.
After beginning 1998 with AAA Toledo, Bako was called up to the big leagues by the Tigers in late April, and he performed well, hitting a .272 with 3 homers and 30 RBI's.
Bako's time in Detroit was short-lived, however, as he was traded to the Houston Astros before the 1998 season, as part of a multi-player package, that also included current Tigers' manager Brad Ausmus as part of the deal.
With the Astros, Bako hit a .256 with 2 homers and 17 RBI's, but was traded to the Florida Marlins just a few games into the 2000 campaign.
Bako went on to play for numerous organizations, including the Atlanta Braves (2000-2001), where he was the personal catcher for Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux in 2001, Milwaukee Brewers (2002), Chicago Cubs (2003-2004), Los Angeles Dodgers (2005), Kansas City Royals (2006), Baltimore Orioles (2007), Reds (2008), and Philadelphia Phillies (2009).
In all, Bako played for 11 different organizations over a 12-year career, covering 789 career games.
A left-handed hitting catcher who was known as a good defender, Bako was highly thought of, both on and off the field.
In nine seasons in the minor leagues, Bako hit a .266, to go along with 32 homers, 196 RBI's.
In 12 seasons in Major League Baseball, Bako hit a .231, to go along with 24 homers and 195 RBI's, while accumulating 508 career hits.
Bako made his MLB debut on April 30 of 1998, while making his final appearance on October 4 of 2009.