Former MLB-er on deck to become a US ambassador

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Gilbert starred at Florida State, where he also played basketball for a season. He was a 14th-round draft pick by the Chicago Cubs in 1978 and hit an RBI single off Hershiser in the 1979 Midwest League playoffs.

Twice Gilbert stole at least 50 bases in the minors, stealing 55 while playing alongside Eric Davis in 1984 at Triple-A Wichita, the top farm team of the Cincinnati Reds.

Gilbert signed with the White Sox before the 1985 season. Called up in midseason, he went 6 for 22 with four walks. One of his hits came against former Cy Young winner Mike Flanagan.

New Zealand is known more for rugby, cricket and America’s Cup sailing more than baseball. The Kiwis played in the qualifying tournament for the most recent World Baseball Classic, and local star Scott Campbell was a Triple-A infielder for Toronto in 2009.

The country does play a lot of softball. That could come in handy: When he gets time, Gilbert still likes to run around the softball field.

Mark was a very talented player. He could hit, he could bunt, he could steal his bases,” Davis said Wednesday. “But what I remember about Mark is how meticulous he was about his game, how he took pride in wearing the uniform right and passing along what he knew.”

Davis was a two-time All-Star and World Series champion. In the minors, he became the leadoff man and Gilbert moved to the second spot.

“I was young, had power and didn’t want to walk. Mark taught me about taking pitches, setting things up for the hitters behind me. That tutelage really helped,” Davis said.

“I never got a chance to thank him for all the time he spent with me, our paths took us in different directions,” he said. “But I never forgot what he did for me.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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