Former Vipers pitcher calls it quits
by Blaine Meller
The man they call Sarge has called it a career. After an injury-riddled season split between the Calgary Vipers and Victoria Seals, pitcher Joe Sergent announced his retirement after 11 seasons in professional baseball. Sergent tore the labrum — the cartilage around the shoulder joint — in his throwing arm prior to the season and at age 32, decided it was time to hang up the cleats.
“I actually threw pretty good at the start of the season, then I hit a three-game stretch where I gave up something like 22 runs in six innings,” he said. “That’s when it really started to hurt. At the end, I could barley hold my arm up.”
In 19 appearances this past season, Sergent went 3-3 with an earned run average of 7.71, a far contrast from his 7-3 season of 2009. Overall with the Vipers, Sergent was 14-8 and helped the locals capture the 2009 Golden Baseball League Championship. Sergent was drafted by the Florida Marlins in the 21st round of the 1999 Major League Baseball draft, still one of the highlights of his career.
“I really do remember my first day with the Marlins. I remember feeling really nervous, but it was so cool that I could call myself a professional baseball player,” he said.
He easily remembers his final appearance as well, which came in Victoria. After throwing four “amazing” innings, Sergent gave up three runs in his final frame. Then it was over. “It was like the past 11 years were all wrapped up into one night. It was like ‘I’m done,’ but I didn’t want it to be done.”
Sergent’s teammates in Victoria were aware of his decision prior to the game, as was the home-plate umpire, a close friend of the affable pitcher. “He actually thanked me for throwing,” Sergent said. “I was really glad he could call the game.”
Even though his playing time is over, Sergent plans to stay in Calgary. He will continue to coach at the Absolute Baseball Academy next to Foothills Stadium and will be interviewing for a teaching job as well. As for the future, Sergent has not ruled out a return to professional baseball, albeit not in a playing role.
“I would love to coach or manage someday. “I always said I would love to finish my career here in Calgary, so if I ever got the chance to coach with the Vipers, that would be amazing.”