Niagara Gazette — Through six months as a Buffalo Bison, St. Francis grade Jim Negrych yearned for a shot at the majors in a foreign country. The Blue Jays never obliged, prompting more than some small outrage, considering his phenomenal batting average through early June.
Now, in another way, he got his wish, but you can’t say his dream came true.
He’s playing in Taiwan.
After the Phillies released him in “the numbers game” shortly before opening day, he caught on with the Lancaster Barnstormers of the Atlantic League, which has supplied the Bisons with some pretty good ballplayers, including peoples’ favorite Val Pascucci.
Negrych roared out of the gate with 3-for-4 on Opening Day and was hitting .500 through last weekend when Taiwanese baseball made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. He was gone by Tuesday. “Good for him, but we’ll really miss him, he was a terrific guy,” said ‘stormer speaker Alexy Posner.
Base Paths can’t figure out which team he’s playing for, the Rhinos, Monkeys, Lions or Elephants, but this grass menagerie pays better than the Atlantic League’s $3,000-per-month salary cap. (Years ago, the AL waived the rule to accommodate Rickey Henderson. The team for which Henderson played held a going-out-of-business auction in April.)
Taiwan’s China Professional Baseball League allows three foreign players per team with salaries almost double that of the Atlantic. Can’t imagine anybody who doesn’t wish him well.
Among Negrych’s mates in his brief Barnstorm were 2012 Bison hurler Chris Schwinden (8-6) and outfielder Blake Gailen, principal figure in that weird play last August in which he caught up to a two-out fly ball after a terrific effort, unknowingly dropped it, then ran for the dugout as if it were a live grenade when a Rochester Red Wing circled the bases.