In 2004, Jason Szuminski ‘00 made history as the first MIT alumnus to play major-league baseball, appearing in seven games as a relief pitcher for the San Diego Padres. But after Szuminski returned to the Chicago Cubs, the team that had drafted him shortly before graduation, he got sent back to the minors and developed tendinitis and then injured his shoulder. He had surgery in June 2005 to repair a torn labrum.
“It’s frustrating watching all the action of spring training when you can’t be out on the field playing,” says Szuminski, who rehabbed after surgery at the Cubs’ spring training facility in Arizona. Then, on March 22, the Cubs released him.
“This was my last year on my contract with the Cubs, and I had a pretty good feeling they would release me later in the summer,” he says. “They did surprise me by jumping the gun, but it really doesn’t change a whole lot.”
“I can’t play for anybody until I finish my rehab and get my arm back to pitching, so getting well is still the number one priority,” says Szuminski, who is now rehabbing at a private facility that caters to professional athletes. His agent, Andy Lipman, agrees. “We’ve been talking to some teams,” he says, “but he’s got to get healthy.”
Whether or not he makes it back to the majors, Szuminski still goes down in the record books as the first MIT graduate to appear on a major-league baseball card. (Art Merewether, SM ‘25, and Skip Lockwood, SM ‘83, both attended MIT after their professional baseball careers.) “It’s pretty neat to have your own card,” says Szuminski. “You can actually buy them on eBay.”