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Plesha's claim to fame

Plesha's claim to fame

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Oftentimes MLB draft picks never make it to the big leagues. They toil away in the farm system and retire never having made an appearance in the big show. The only evidence of their baseball career is an entry in a baseball encyclopedia or a story told to grandchildren.

As a 19-year-old, Ken Plesha was drafted and now 41 years later after gaining perspective on his career shares his memories with his three grandkids.

"They think more about it than I do," Plesha said. "They get pretty excited."

The White Sox picked Plesha, a catcher from the University of Notre Dame, in the first round with the 17th overall pick in the inaugural Major League Baseball draft of 1965. He began somewhat of a trend for the White Sox -- having drafted seven catchers in the first round, more than any other team in league history. Plesha shares the honor of being Notre Dame's highest player drafted with Houston Astros reliever Brad Lidge.

Plesha spent four seasons bouncing around in the Midwest League, Northern League, Carolina League, Rookie League and his favorite, the Florida State League. He got to spend Spring Training with the Sox in 1966 and says the experience opened his eyes to both the athletic ability and personality of the Major League players.

"I got the experience of understanding what needed to be done to blossom into a Major League ball player," Plesha said. "I know he doesn't remember it, but Moose Skowron took us out to eat because we weren't making any money. I thought that was really nice of him."

Plesha left the game in 1969 and moved back to his hometown of McCook, IL. He taught physical education for a short time and now is the superintendent for the McCook park district.

A life long Cubs fan, Plesha did not watch the White Sox win the World Series last year.

"I'm still a Cubs fan," Plesha lamented.

After letting his baseball memories ruminate over a number of years, Plesha characterizes his short-lived career as an enjoyable experience that let him meet good people. He was impressed with the "exceptional" and "extraordinary" personnel that he encountered within the White Sox organization, especially at the instructional and Rookie League levels.

Overall, he's glad that he had the opportunity to make it in baseball rather than contemplating what could have been.

"It was an experience I'm glad I went through," Plesha said. "I think that rather than having to wonder if I could ever accomplish anything, I was able to go to Spring Training and see the talent that was there. It would have been very difficult to go around the rest of my life wondering why or if I could have."

Leslie Parker is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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