Robert William Mackowiak
- Bats Left, Throws Right
- Height 5' 10", Weight 168 lb.
- School South Suburban Junior College
- High School Oak Lawn High School
- Debut May 19, 2001
- Final Game June 5, 2008
- Born June 20, 1976 in Oak Lawn, IL USA
Rob Mackowiak (pronounced "mah-KOH-vee-ack)," has a wife, Jennifer, and a son, Garret, born May 28, 2004. Mackowiak was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 30th round of the 1995 amateur draft, but did not sign. In the 1996 amateur draft, Mackowiak was drafted in the 53rd round by the Pittsburgh Pirates and was signed by Pirates scout Bill Bryk.
In 1996, Mackowiak spent his first professional baseball season with the GCL Pirates. In 1997, Mackowiak moved on to the Erie SeaWolves of the New York-Penn League, where he helped the team reach a first-place finish. He ended up hitting the second-most doubles for the club for the season. Mackowiak began the 1998 season with Single A Pirates affiliate Augusta GreenJackets, before moving over to the Lynchburg Hillcats, in high Class A. He finished the season hitting .268 with 4 homers and 39 RBI in 111 games with the two clubs. He was also ranked second in the Lynchburg club in triples. 1999 was another split season for the rising Mackowiak. Whereas he started the season in Lynchburg, he was promoted to the Altoona Curve club where he hit safely in the first 15 of 17 games. His production fell off at the end of the season, however, where he was batting a mere .208 in his final 36 games.
Mackowiak spent his entire 2000 season with AA Altoona. It was a good year for Mackowiak, as he set career highs in every offensive category. Mackowiak had no set position for the club, which is perhaps where he got his start as a solid utility man. He made 71 appearances at second base, 38 in right field, 23 at third base, two at shortstop and one in left field. Mackowiak was also given Player of the Month honors for the Altoona club in May. That winter, Rob hit .269/?/.434 for the Pastora de Occidente club in the Venezuelan Winter League.
2001 was a big season for Mackowiak. While beginning the year with the Triple-A Nashville Sounds, Mackowiak excelled in his games. The Pirates bought Mackowiak's contract on May 18th. He made his major league debut at second base against the Milwaukee Brewers on May 19th, when he went 0-for-3 with an intentional walk. Mackowiak's first major league home run came off the Florida Marlins' Braden Looper at PNC Park on May 30th. 2002 was Mackowiak's first full season in the majors, where he made 76 appearances (40 starts) in right field, 42 appearances (37 starts) in center field, 26 appearances (22 starts) at third base, three appearances (one start) at second base and two appearances in left field.
2003 saw Mackowiak's second Opening Day start for the Pirates organization, and continuing his jack-of-all-trades status at the club, appeared at five different positions in his first 10 games (RF, CF, LF, 2B & 3B). When Mackowiak registered just one hit in 21 at bats (.048) before being optioned to AAA Nashville on June 8th. Mackowiak was recalled by Pittsburgh on August 19th, and proceeded to post a career-high four hits in his return to the Bucs the next day, against the St. Louis Cardinals. Mackowiak bested his career highs in all offensive categories in the 2004 season, and also marked his third straight year on the Pirates' Opening Day roster. In a memorable occurrence for many, Mackowiak hit a walk-off grand slam against Joe Borowski to win the first game of a doubleheader against the Chicago Cubs, approximately nine hours after he had received news of the birth of his son, Garret; in the second game, he hit a game-tying home run in the 9th inning.
As of the end of the 2005 season, Mackowiak had a .258 batting average with 52 home runs after 593 games over the course of 5 seasons.
Mackowiak was known for starting the season quickly, then fading as the year progressed. A solid contributor as a utility man, his biggest problem was a tendency to strike out. Pirates fans noted that "you can't spell Mackowiak without two K's."
Mackowiak has had some off-the-field troubles, including a DUI citation in 2003 when he drove the wrong way down a one-way street.