I, and almost certainly no one else who was not employed by the White Sox in the mid-80s, has any memory of Mark Gilbert. He was an outfielder who, at age 28 in 1985, played a grand total of seven games for Chicago. Other than a small-sample OBP of .385, it is of no real note whatsoever to anyone not related to Mark Gilbert.
But now Gilbert, who can always say he made it to the big leagues, has another notable gig: Ambassador to New Zealand. He was confirmed by the Senate on Friday and will hold the post until whoever succeeds Obama appoints someone new.
How does one go from Comiskey Park to a pretty sweet gig in Aukland? The American Way: a job in finance and then into politics and then raking in all kinds of dough for the campaigns of the politician who appointed him. What, you think we train our ambassadors at Ambassador School? Most of them are rewards for wringing the wallets of friends and colleagues in election years.
Of course, absent an immediate escalation in tensions between the United States and New Zealand, most of Gilbert’s time will be spent holding state dinners, smiling and shaking hands and stuff. Tasks which, however foreign they are to most White Sox outfielders, are right in the wheelhouse of finance guys and political fundraisers.