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Thomas Aaron Shearn

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"I told him 'Hey man, when you're in my job, you can stay in the game until you're 60." - Dennis Klein, supervising grounds director, for whom Shearn has worked as a groundskeeper in off-seasons
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Tom Shearn debuted in the major leagues only two days before his 30th birthday and 11 years after his pro career began.

Shearn was a 29th-round pick of the Houston Astros in the 1996 amateur draft. They did a good job with pitchers in rounds 20-29 with Wade Miller, Roy Oswalt, Mike Meyers and Shearn. He debuted with the GCL Astros and was 5-2 with a 1.73 ERA in 17 games, striking out over a batter per inning and was far more successful than Miller, his teammate. Had he qualified, he would have finished third in the Gulf Coast League in ERA, .01 behind the leaders.

In 1997, Tom did okay for the Auburn Doubledays, going 4-6 with a 3.50 ERA. He tied Mike McDougal for the New York-Penn League lead in shutouts (2). Shearn was better in 1998 - 7-7 with a 2.25 ERA for the Quad City River Bandits. In 120 innings, he allowed only 88 hits though he walked 52. He was 4th in the Midwest League in ERA. He was the winning pitcher in the MWL All-Star Game that year.

Shearn had a 10-6, 3.90 record for the Kissimmee Cobras in 1999. In 2000, the right-hander made his AA debut for the Round Rock Express, with a 9-6, 4.69 record. Returning to AA in 2001 in a relief role primarily, he was 5-6 with a save and 3.85 ERA for Round Rock. He struck out 136 but walked 51 in 110 IP. Round Rock's 3.62 ERA led the league as they had the best record. Shearn joined Team USA that summer for the 2001 Baseball World Cup. He went 1-1 with a 3.12 ERA for the silver medalists. His loss, though, was a tough one. He relieved in the 8th inning of the Gold Medal game against the Cuban national team with a 2-2 tie, but allowed three Cuban runs, thanks in part to a 2-run hit by SS German Mesa. Had the USA won, it would have marked the first time since 1965 that Cuba did not win a Baseball World Cup it had competed in.

The Ohio native made it to AAA in 2002 and led Astros minor leaguers with 57 games pitched. The workhorse was 4-6 with 8 saves and a 2.92 ERA. He was three games behind Matt Whiteside, the Pacific Coast League leader and was 4th in the PCL in games pitched.

Shearn had Tommy John surgery and missed all of 2003. Houston had released him but he was able to sign a minor league deal with the Cincinnati Reds that November.

In 2004, Tom pitched for the Chattanooga Lookouts (6-4, 5 Sv, 4.40 in 37 games, 67 K in 61 1/3 IP) and the Louisville Bats (0-1, 2.55 in 11 games, .167 opponent batting average). Shearn returned to Louisville in 2005 and was 4-5 with one save and a 4.26 ERA in 44 outings. He struck out a batter per inning but control remained questionable (4.26 walks per 9 innings). He was 1-1 with a 3.04 ERA for Estrellas that winter.

In his 10th year as a pro, Shearn had his best season in 8 years. He was 9-4 with a 2.52 ERA as a starter (14 games) and reliever (18 games) for Louisville. On September 3, he teamed with Brad Salmon and Scott Chiasson on a one-hitter of the Indianapolis Indians. Had he qualified, he would have ranked second in the International League in ERA, trailing only Brian Mazone. In the 2006-2007 Mexican Pacific League, Shearn had a 6-3, 2.76 record, finishing third in ERA behind Oscar Rivera and Joakim Soria.

Shearn started 2007 back with Louisville and was 7-10 with a 4.20 ERA as a starting pitcher. In late August, he was living in the groundskeeper's camper behind center field; he decided not to pay another month's rent on his apartment with the season almost over. While living in the camper, he got the call from Rick Sweet that he was headed to the Reds to replace Kirk Saarloos on the roster. Shearn said "Even if it's only one day, I can smile."

Shearn made his MLB debut in fine fashion. He began by retiring Hanley Ramirez on a fly to CF Josh Hamilton, then allowed only four hits in 7 innings and walked just 2; he was tagged for 3 runs but won a 9-3 rout thanks to a grand slam from battery mate Ryan Jorgensen. He was the oldest Reds player to debut since Greg Tubbs in 1993 and the oldest pitcher since former Negro Leaguer Pat Scantlebury in 1956.

Shearn was 3-0 with a 4.96 ERA for the 2007 Reds with a 94 ERA+.

Tom began 2008 back with Louisville, going 6-2 with a 4.53 ERA. He was then signed by the Samsung Lions and struggled, losing his first six decisions with a 10.73 ERA. He allowed 44 hits and 18 walks in 26 innings.

Sources: 1997-2007 Baseball Almanac, 2007 Reds Media Guide, MLB.com story on Shearn's debut, IBAF website, KBO Player Page

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