Bartolo Colón (born May 24, 1973) is a Dominican American professional baseball pitcher for the Atlanta Braves of Major League Baseball (MLB). Nicknamed Big Sexy, he previously played in MLB for the Cleveland Indians (1997–2002), Montreal Expos (2002), Chicago White Sox (2003, 2009), Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (2004–2007), Boston Red Sox (2008), New York Yankees (2011), Oakland Athletics (2012–2013), and New York Mets (2014–2016).
Colón won the American League Cy Young Award with the Angels in 2005, when he led the American League in wins. He is a four-time MLB All-Star.
Entering the 2016 MLB season less than two months shy of his 43rd birthday, Colón is the oldest active player in Major League Baseball and also holds the distinction of being the last active Major Leaguer to play for the Montreal Expos. Colón became the oldest MLB player to hit his first career home run at the age of 42.
Bartolo Colón grew up in a home without electricity, running water, or indoor plumbing in the town of Altamira in the Dominican Republic. He worked 12-hour days with his brothers, sister and father, Miguel, picking beans and fruit. His mother's name was Adriana. He does major charity work for his old community. The family could not afford balls or gloves so they substituted tightly wound rags for baseballs and milk cartons for gloves.
Bartolo Colón was signed by the Cleveland Indians as a free agent in 1993.
In 1995, pitching for Kinston of the Single-A Carolina League, he finished second in wins with 13 and ERA with 1.96, and led the circuit with 152 strikeouts. He was named the league's Pitcher of the Year, despite shutting down on August 1 with a bruised elbow. He was named the Indians' 1995 Minor League Player of the Year (receiving the "Lou Boudreau Award").
He played Triple-A ball with the Buffalo Bisons in 1997 and became the only player in team history to throw a no-hitter at Coca-Cola Field.
Colón made his Major League Baseball debut at the Anaheim Angels on April 4, 1997, receiving a no decision. In his first MLB season, Colón went 4–7 with a 5.65 ERA. The following year, he set the modern-day but unofficial MLB record for throwing the most pitches (20) in a single at bat on June 26, 1998 against Ricky Gutiérrez, who eventually struck out. Later that season, Colón won his only start of the 1998 American League Championship Series, pitching a four-hit, one-run complete game. In his 1999 season, Colón finished 18–5, pitching over 200 innings with 161 strikeouts and a 3.95 ERA.
On September 18, 2000, he tossed a one-hitter against the New York Yankees. In 2000, Colón eclipsed his strikeouts number by 51, ending with 212. He also posted a career-high 98 walks.
Just prior to the 2002 trade deadline, Colón and Tim Drew were traded to the Montreal Expos in exchange for Lee Stevens, Brandon Phillips, and prospects Grady Sizemore and Cliff Lee. Colón finished 2002 with a combined 20–8 record and a 2.93 ERA, including 76 earned runs with 70 walks in 233 1⁄3 innings, three shutouts, and eight complete games. As of the 2016 season, Colón is the only active player to have played on the Expos.
Chicago White Sox
Before the 2003 season, Colón was traded to the Chicago White Sox with minor leaguer Jorge Nunez for Orlando Hernández, Rocky Biddle, Jeff Liefer and cash.
A free agent after the season, he signed with the Anaheim Angels. Colón won 18 games with Anaheim in 2004. During the 2005 season, he went 21–8 with a 3.48 ERA, and became the first Angels pitcher to win the Cy Young Award since Dean Chance in 1964. Due to a partially torn rotator cuff that he received in a playoff game against the Yankees in 2005, Colón spent much of the 2006 season on the DL with soreness or inflammation in his right shoulder. In 10 starts, Colón went 1–5 with a 5.11 ERA.
On April 21, 2007, his first start of the 2007 season following his return from the DL, Colón pitched 7 innings, allowing one run on seven hits for his first win in 2007.
Boston Red Sox
On February 25, 2008, Colón signed a minor league deal with the Boston Red Sox and was invited to spring training. On May 15, 2008, Colón threw a one-hitter for the Red Sox' Triple-A team, the Pawtucket Red Sox. Six days later, Colón's contract was purchased by the Red Sox, and he was added to the active roster. Colón pitched his first major league game for the Red Sox on May 21, 2008, against the Kansas City Royals. Colón earned his 150th career win on June 11, 2008 against the Baltimore Orioles.
On September 19, 2008, Colón was placed on the suspended list by the Red Sox after leaving for the Dominican Republic to handle "personal matters" and deciding to stay, effectively ending his Red Sox career. Colón was placed on the restricted list on September 25, 2008. Colón spent the post-season on the restricted list as the Red Sox won the 2008 ALDS against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 4 games, but lost the 2008 ALCS against the Tampa Bay Rays in 7 games. He filed for free agency after the end of the 2008 season.
Second stint with the White Sox
Colón agreed to a one-year, $1 million contract to return to the Chicago White Sox in January 2009, shortly after they had traded Javier Vázquez to the Atlanta Braves. He would compete for the fourth and fifth starters' positions in the White Sox rotation.
Colón made his comeback from off-season surgery to remove bone chips from his pitching arm elbow during the White Sox Spring training, in the Cactus League in Arizona. He was named as the White Sox fifth starter by manager Ozzie Guillén before the start of the regular season. He won his first start in his second stint in Chicago, pitching six strong innings of three-hit ball as the Sox blanked rivals Minnesota 8–0 on April 11, 2009. In doing so he became the first White Sox starting pitcher to win a regular season game in 2009. Colón then suffered another injury and did not pitch again for the remainder of the season.
Colón has pitched 31 complete games, ranking 11th among active players as of June 11, 2008.
New York Yankees
Colón did not pitch in 2010 due to ongoing right shoulder and elbow pain and damage to the rotator cuff, ligaments and tendons. In March 2010, he received a transplant of stem cells to repair the damaged tissues in his right shoulder. The orthopedic surgeon who performed the surgery said he had used human growth hormone in previous surgeries of the same type but not with Colón. The surgery was scrutinized by MLB but no wrongdoing was found.
Colón then played in the Pre-World Championship in Puerto Rico, winter ball with the Aguilas and the Leones del Escogido, and the Puerto Rican winter league., and announced that he would attempt a comeback to MLB for the 2011 season. He signed a minor league deal with the New York Yankees on January 26, 2011. Colón was invited to spring training, competing for a spot on the 25 man roster, despite coming into camp 30 pounds overweight. Colón was named to the Yankees' Opening Day roster in the bullpen. Colón made his first start for the Yankees on April 20, taking the rotation spot of the injured Phil Hughes. Through the month of May, Colon was 3–3 with a 3.26 ERA. On May 30, 2011, he threw a 4-hit complete game shutout, his first since 2006 against the Athletics. He sustained a hamstring injury on June 11, 2011, against the Cleveland Indians. When he was injured, he was in the 7th inning of a shutout game against the Indians, but he limped off the field after covering first base on a ground ball to Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira. Colón then ended up on the 15-day disabled list. He said that he'd be back pitching right when he is eligible to. On July 2, Colón returned to the Yankees and threw six shutout innings against the New York Mets. On July 14 against the Blue Jays, Colón lasted only after the first 2 outs in the first inning yielding 8 runs, the shortest outing of his career. Colón's 2011 season was somewhat of a resurgence, going 8–10 with a respectable 4.00 ERA and a WHIP of 1.29. Colón was demoted to the bullpen when the Yankees made the postseason and the team lost to the Detroit Tigers in the 2011 ALDS.
On January 14, 2012, Colón agreed to a one-year, $2 million contract with the Oakland Athletics. He started the second game of the season for the Athletics in the Opening Series in Tokyo, Japan, throwing 8 innings, giving up 1 run over 3 hits, with 6 strikeouts. On April 18 Colón threw 38 consecutive strikes, the most since 1988, when the MLB began to collect pitching data in-depth, in a start against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He started the 2012 season with a 3–1 record and 2.64 ERA, but faltered with a 1–4 record and 5.80 ERA in his next seven starts.
Colón was suspended August 22, 2012, for 50 games by MLB after testing positive for synthetic testosterone, a performance-enhancing substance in violation of MLB's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. He was the second MLB player to be suspended within a two-week time frame for testosterone (the other being San Francisco Giants star Melky Cabrera).
The Athletics signed Colón to a one-year, $3 million deal for 2013. He was selected for his third All-Star team in July after posting an 11–3 record with a 2.78 ERA.
New York Mets
On December 11, 2013, Colón agreed to a 2-year, $20 million contract with the New York Mets. On June 18, Colón got his first hit in 9 years when he hit a double off Lance Lynn. On August 8, 2014, Colón recorded his 200th win in a 5–4 victory against the Philadelphia Phillies. He is the third Dominican-born pitcher to do so, after Juan Marichal and Pedro Martínez, and the third pitcher to do so in a Mets uniform, after Orel Hershiser and Martínez. Colón finished the 2014 season with 31 starts, 15-13 record, 202.1 innings pitched, 151 strikeouts, and a 4.09 ERA while giving up 218 hits, 30 walks, 22 home runs, and 97 runs (92 of them earned).
On Opening Day in 2015 against the Washington Nationals, Colón became the 3rd Opening Day pitcher that was over 40 years old to strike out 8 batters, after Cy Young and Nolan Ryan. On April 12, 2015, against the Atlanta Braves, Colón hit an RBI single off Alex Wood, his 6th RBI of his career. On April 23, 2015, Colón completed an unassisted pick off of Atlanta Braves catcher A. J. Pierzynski en route to becoming the first pitcher aged 40 years or older to win his first four starts in a season in the past 80 years. He also tallied one more RBI, on a double in May 31, 2015. Colón became the first pitcher ever to record wins against one team (the Baltimore Orioles) for seven different clubs. Six pitchers held the previous record of six clubs.
On June 9, 2015, Colón set a new Mets franchise record of most consecutive decisions as a starting pitcher, achieving 26 decisions in 26 consecutive starts. This record was previously held by Dwight Gooden. On September 5, 2015, Justin Bour of the Miami Marlins hit a chopper down the first-base line. Colón charged and made a behind-the-back flip to first for the out. Video of the play garnered widespread media acclaim. In 33 games (31 starts), he finished the 2015 year with a 14-13 record and a 4.16 ERA. On October 21, 2015, Colón pitched 1.1 innings in relief to earn the win in game 4 of the NLCS and help the Mets to a sweep of the Chicago Cubs.
On October 27, 2015, Colón pitched 2.1 innings in relief and took the loss at the end of game 1 of the World Series, becoming the oldest man ever to lose a World Series game. It was his first World Series appearance since he was a rookie with the Indians back in 1997, and the Mets lost the series in five games to the Kansas City Royals.
On December 16, 2015, Colón re-signed with the Mets on a 1-year, $7.25 million contract. He entered the 2016 MLB season as the oldest active player in Major League Baseball. He is also, following the retirement of Maicer Izturis, the last active MLB player who appeared for the Montreal Expos.
On May 7, Colón hit his first major league home run, against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park off of James Shields. At age 42 years and 349 days, Colón broke a record by becoming the oldest major league player to hit his first home run. On June 21, Colón was injured when Whit Merrifield hit his pitch right to the pitcher's mound where the ball struck Colon in the thumb. He was immediately taken out of the game. On July 8, Colón was named to the 2016 MLB All-Star Game, replacing Madison Bumgarner. On August 15, Colón drew a walk after having not been walked for the previous 281 plate appearances, achieving a new MLB record. On October 1, Colón became the 47th player all-time to make 500 career starts.
On November 17, 2016, Colón signed a one-year, $12.5 million contract with the Atlanta Braves.
He needs 11 more wins to surpass Hall of Famer Juan Marichal as the winningest pitcher from the Dominican Republic.
Colón throws four pitches. Early in his career, Colón had excellent velocity on his four-seam fastball, throwing it in the mid 90s and occasionally touching 100 mph. Currently, Colón's four-seamer sits at 86–91 mph, and he pairs it with a two-seamer at 84–88. This combination of fastballs makes up nearly 90% of Colón's pitches, but he also throws a changeup to left-handed hitters and a slider. He is primarily known today as a control pitcher, with an exceptional ability to spot pitches at any location. This keeps walks to a minimum, but leads to more hits as he will throw strikes.
Awards and accomplishments
- Cy Young Award (2005)
- 4× MLB All-Star (1998, 2005, 2013, 2016)
- 4× Pitcher of the Month Award (June 1998, May 2002, August 2005, June 2013)
- 5× Player of the Week Award
- Players Choice Award for Outstanding Pitcher (2005)
- The Sporting News Pitcher of the Year Award (2005)
- League statistical leader
- 2× bases on balls per nine innings leader (2015, 2016)
- 2× MLB complete games leader (2002, 2003)
- NL hits allowed leader (2015)
- AL shutouts leader (2013)
- AL wins leader (2005)
Colón is known as Big Sexy by his teammates and the media. Colon applied for a trademark on the Big Sexy nickname. He plans on making apparel out of it.
Colón's wife, Rosanna, and their sons, Bartolo Jr., Emilio, Wilder, and Randy, all live in Clifton, New Jersey. On September 30, 2014, Colón and his wife became US citizens. Colón met his wife in the Dominican Republic when he was only 13 years old.
In 2015, Colón was sued in Manhattan by a Washington Heights woman seeking child support for her son and daughter, whom she alleges were fathered by Colón. The children were conceived and born during Colón's marriage.