Berkman with the Cardinals in 2011
|Designated Hitter / First baseman / Outfielder|
February 10, 1976 |
|Bats: Switch||Throws: Left|
|July 16, 1999 for the Houston Astros|
(through 2013 season)
|Runs batted in||1,234|
|Career highlights and awards|
William Lance Berkman (born February 10, 1976) is an American professional baseball first baseman and outfielder who is a free agent. He has played for the Houston Astros, New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers.
Berkman is a six-time MLB All-Star. He won the National League Comeback Player of the Year Award in 2011. He stands 6 feet 1 inch (1.85 m), and weighs 220 pounds (100 kg). Berkman has spent various seasons of his career as a regular at all three outfield positions.
- 1 Early life and amateur career
- 2 Minor league career
- 3 Major League career
- 4 Coaching
- 5 Career achievements
- 6 Personal life
- 7 Nicknames
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Early life and amateur career
Berkman was born in Waco, Texas, the son of Cynthia Ann (née Thomas) and Larry Gene Berkman. His paternal grandfather, whose family's surname was originally "Bjorkman", was of Swedish descent. Berkman graduated from Canyon High School in New Braunfels, Texas, in 1994.
He then attended Rice University playing on the Owls baseball team, where he was named the 1997 National College Player of the Year, playing for the legendary Wayne Graham, as well as named a first team All-America by Collegiate Baseball Magazine, Baseball America and The Sporting News. He was invited to visit the White House and dine with President Clinton along with the rest of the Baseball America honorees.
Throughout college, he batted a collective .385 with 67 home runs and 272 RBI. His 41 home runs in 1997 ranked third-most in NCAA history. That year he also made the all-time record book in RBI (2nd-134), slugging percentage (6th-1.031) and total bases (4th-263) while leading the Rice Owls to their first College World Series appearance.
Minor league career
After the Astros drafted Berkman, the team assigned him to play with their Class A Advanced Florida State League affiliate, Kissimmee. In only 53 games, he hit .293 with 12 HR and 35 RBI. In 1998, his second minor league season, he was promoted to Double-A Jackson. His potential was beginning to show, as he hit .306 and clubbed 24 HR with 89 RBI over 122 games for manager Jim Pankovitz. The Astros granted him a mid-season promotion to Triple-A New Orleans Zephyrs. He played 17 games in New Orleans, and 1998 would prove to be his last full season in the minor leagues. In 1999, Berkman was midway through a great season in New Orleans when he was called up to the parent club, the Houston Astros. Prior to the promotion, he had been hitting .323 with 8 HR and 49 RBI through 64 games.
Major League career
Throughout his entire high school, college, and minor league career, Berkman played first base. Because Jeff Bagwell was already entrenched at first, Berkman was shifted to the outfield to get into the starting lineup. His first stint with the Astros ended with 34 games played. He was demoted during the offseason for seasoning.
The demotion proved brief, however; 31 games into the 2000 season, Houston again promoted Berkman. Moving from left field to right field, he hit .297, with 21 HR and 67 RBI. This firmly established him in the Astros lineup, and he became a starter for the rest of his career in Houston. In 2001, Berkman hit .331 (4th in the NL), posted a .430 On-base percentage (OBP) (5th in the NL), and drove in 126 runs (7th in the league). He also scored 110 runs and hit 34 home runs, while his 55 doubles led the league. 2001 also marked his first All-Star appearance (he would repeat in 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2008) and he was 5th in Most Valuable Player voting.
2002 saw his batting average drop to .292, although he kept his OBP high at .405. His power output increased also, resulting in 42 home runs. Berkman scored 106 runs and drove in 128, good enough to lead the league. He made his second All-Star appearance and was third in the NL in the Most Valuable Player voting.
In 2003, Berkman's batting average dipped to .288, although his OBP was still high at .412. He hit 25 home runs, and drove in 93 runs, scoring 110. In the field, he played every game in left field, moving to center field once. In May 2003, Berkman astounded teammates when he admitted he did not know what a fielder's choice was.
In 2004, Berkman's average increased to .316, and his OBP was .450, having walked 127 times. He hit 30 home runs, drove in 106, and scored 104 runs. He also hit 40 doubles and appeared in 160 games, the most so far in his career for a single season. Berkman made the All-Star team, his third All-Star appearance, and placed second in the 2004 Home Run Derby behind Miguel Tejada. In May, his .785 slugging percentage and 24 RBI won him the National League Player of the Month for the first time in his career. Defensively, Berkman split 2004 between left and right field.
In Game 4 of the 2005 National League Division Series against the Atlanta Braves, Berkman hit a grand slam in the 8th inning. That brought the score to 6–5 in favor of the Braves, but the game was tied in the next inning on a two-out solo home run by Brad Ausmus. The teams then battled for 9 more innings in what became the longest game in Major League Baseball playoff history, with the Astros eventually winning the game (and the series) in the bottom of the 18th inning on a Chris Burke home run. Burke had replaced Berkman as a pinch runner in the 10th. In the 2005 World Series, Berkman's first, the Astros were swept by the Chicago White Sox in four games, though Berkman compiled a .385 average with two doubles. His six RBIs during that series were the most of any of the Astros' hitters.
On Mother's Day, May 14, 2006, Berkman was one of more than 50 hitters who brandished a pink bat to benefit the Breast Cancer Foundation. On September 13, 2006, Berkman became only the second switch hitter in Major League history to hit 40 or more homers in multiple seasons, with Mickey Mantle being the first.
During the 2006 season, Berkman hit 45 home runs and had 136 RBIs, breaking the Astros single season record, which was set by Jeff Bagwell in 1997 (135). He also had a .315 batting average, an on-base percentage of .420, as well as a slugging percentage of .621. He also hit a career high 5 home runs from the right side of the plate. He finished third in the MVP voting behind Ryan Howard and Albert Pujols.
Berkman started the 2007 season in a bit of a slump, batting .261, well below his career average, but rebounded for a strong second half of the season. Berkman finished the 2007 season with a .278 batting average, 34 home runs and 102 RBIs, along with 7 stolen bases.
Berkman started the 2008 season batting well above .385 through April, won the NL Player of the Month in May and two separate Player of the Week awards, one which he went 29–32 (batted .906) with 6 home runs, including a McCovey Cove splash landing. At the All-Star break, he was in the NL's top four in batting average, with 22 home runs, and was on pace for 130+ RBIs. However, despite the rest of the team picking up steam behind the likes of Roy Oswalt, Wandy Rodriguez, Hunter Pence, and Ty Wigginton's rebound second half, Berkman's individual performance dipped significantly, and by season's end, he batted .312, with 29 home runs (7 of which were right-handed, setting a new career high), and 106 RBI. Berkman was fifth in the voting for the 2008 NL MVP award, behind Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard, Ryan Braun, and Manny Ramirez.
New York Yankees (2010)
On July 31, 2010, Berkman was traded to the New York Yankees for minor leaguers Jimmy Paredes and Mark Melancon. He served as both a designated hitter and back-up first baseman during his tenure with New York. During the 2010 ALCS, Berkman served first base for the rest of the post-season when Mark Teixeira went on the disabled list due to a hamstring injury. The Yankees eventually lost the ALCS to the Texas Rangers in 6 games.
The Yankees announced on October 27 that the club declined to exercise their option for Berkman for 2011.
St. Louis Cardinals (2011–2012)
Berkman was under contract with the Cardinals for the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
On July 5, 2011, Berkman hit his 350th career home run, and his long-ball was the second farthest home run ever hit in the new Busch Stadium.
2011 became a comeback year for Berkman, as he was one of the team leaders in batting average, home runs and RBIs. He was named the NL Comeback Player of the Year.
Berkman made key contributions in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series vs the Texas Rangers. He hit his first home run in a World Series game in the first inning and in the ninth, with St. Louis down to their final strike before elimination, Berkman was driven home followed by Albert Pujols after a game-tying 2-run triple by David Freese. After Texas scored two runs in the top of the tenth and Ryan Theriot hit a run-scoring groundout, Berkman hit a two-out two-strike RBI single that tied the game which brought home Jon Jay and Daniel Descalso. Berkman won his first World Series championship as the Cardinals defeated the Texas Rangers in the series in 7 games.
On April 22, 2012, Berkman was placed on the disabled list due to a calf injury. On May 21, 2012, Berkman was again placed on the disabled list due to right knee injury. An MRI revealed that there was significant cartilage damage to both sides of the knee and a torn meniscus, requiring arthroscopic surgery. Berkman returned on July 14, 2012. He was then placed on the 15-day disabled list on August 3, 2012 due to knee inflammation. It was the third time Berkman went on the DL in the 2012 season. On September 10, 2012, he was again put on the disabled list after having to go for a secondary meniscus surgery in the same knee. On October, 3rd, 2012, Berkman had his last at bat as a Cardinal. He spent the 2012 postseason on the physically unable to perform list as the Cardinals won the 2012 NLDS against the Washington Nationals but lost the 2012 NLCS against the San Francisco Giants.
On January 5, 2013, Berkman agreed to a one-year contract with the Texas Rangers that will pay him approximately $10 million. On October 31, the Rangers declined his option, making him a free agent. 
On May 11, 2009, Berkman announced that after his major league career he would like to coach baseball at the University of Texas at Austin even though he attended Rice University. Since he didn't finish his degree at Rice, he would need to return to school and complete three more semesters to earn a business degree with a minor in sports management. He fully expects that current coach Augie Garrido will not retire until 2013 or 2014, and that only then will he be able to succeed the legendary coach. "I know Garrido's going to coach four or five more years. I figured that might dovetail nicely with the end of my career." 
- Winner of the 2011 World Series with St. Louis.
- Six time All-Star (2001–02, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2011)
- Named the NL Comeback Player of the Year in 2011
- 21st among active players in batting average (.296)
- 3rd among active players (36th all-time) in on-base percentage (.409)
- 9th among active players (32nd all-time) in slugging percentage (.545)
- 4th among active players (19th all-time) in OPS (.954)
- Led NL in doubles (55) in 2001.
- Led NL in RBI (128) in 2002.
- National League Player of the Month in May 2004 and May 2008.
- National League Player of the Week for April 21–27 and May 5–11 in 2008; April 11–17 and April 25 – May 1 in 2011.
- Lance Berkman holds the National League record for most single season RBIs (136) as a switch hitter.
- Lance Berkman holds the National League record for most single season Home Runs (45) as a switch hitter (tied with Chipper Jones).
- Holds the record for most home runs in day games at Minute Maid Park in Houston (147).
- Holds the record for most home runs at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati for an opposing player in his career (23).
Berkman and his wife, Cara, live in Houston with their four daughters. Berkman has been very outspoken about his religious beliefs throughout his career. Berkman uses his position as a professional athlete to discuss his religious beliefs with others. He told The 700 Club in May 2007: "What you’re running after, what you’re trying to find will not provide you with any lasting fulfillment. The only place you can find that is Jesus Christ. It’s in the service of God you’ll find that lasting fulfillment." 
In 2001, Berkman began leading a charity called "Berkman's Bunch" where 50 underprivileged kids could meet Berkman before each Saturday home game for autographs and other gifts. In April 2012, Forbes named Berkman one of the 30 most generous celebrities as he and his wife had donated $2,412,245 to a foundation they established called To The Lord’s Fund.
In July 2013, Berkman purchased a fire truck and had it overhauled by the City of Arlington. He then donated it to the City of West, Texas, in the wake of the West Fertilizer Plant Explosion that took place earlier in the year. The fire truck is white with a red Maltese cross on the doors and the name Berkman over the cross with his number "27" encircled within the cross.
He is most popularly known as "Fat Elvis" and "The Big Puma." Before the 2006 season started, in an interview with a local Houston sports radio station, Lance joked "I'm more like a puma so I'm not sure why people call me Fat Elvis." The show's hosts, John Granato and Lance Zierlein, ran with the moniker and Houston fans and media latched onto "The Big Puma." When questioned further, Berkman explained the nickname is simply logical. "Agile, athletic, sleek ... all the things that describe my game," he said, somewhat tongue-in-cheek. With his outstanding start in 2008, this nickname also became known on a national level. That same year, a Lance Berkman fan club calling themselves "The Little Pumas" emerged. During Berkman's long tenure with the Astros, they could be seen wearing puma costumes and foam puma paws at most Astros home games near the Conoco Pump in left-center field. The group became relatively well-known among Astros fans, as they were shown often during Astros broadcasts on Fox Sports Houston.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Lance Berkman.|
- List of top 300 Major League Baseball home run hitters
- List of Major League Baseball players with 1,000 RBIs
- List of Major League Baseball players with 1,000 Runs
- List of Major League Baseball leaders in Base on Balls
- List of Major League Baseball RBI champions
- List of Major League Baseball doubles champions
- Player of the Week
- Player of the Month
- "San Antonio Express-News, Archives | mySA.com". Nl.newsbank.com. 1996-06-15. Retrieved 2013-04-03.
- "NewsBank for Statesman | www.prod.statesman.com". Nl.newsbank.com. Retrieved 2013-04-03.
- "William Lance BERKMAN: SweAme". Swedesintexas.com. Retrieved 2013-04-03.
- Wild, Danny (October 16, 2009). "Path of the Pros: Lance Berkman". MLB.com. Retrieved August 1, 2010.
- "Rice University Records" (PDF). Retrieved August 3, 2010.
- "Lance Berkman". Baseball-Reference. Retrieved August 9, 2010.
- Lance Berkman wants instant replay. “We have the technology,” The Faster Times
- "Home Run Derby (2000–2008)". baseball-almanac.com. Retrieved September 22, 2008.
- Footer, Alyson (June 2, 2004). "Berkman NL Player of the Month". Major League Baseball. Retrieved August 9, 2010.
- Footer, Alyson (March 19, 2005). "Astros, Berkman reach six-year deal". MLB.com. Retrieved August 1, 2010.
- Lance Berkman Pink Louisville Slugger Bat for Breast Cancer Awareness Big Time Bats
- "BASEBALL: NATIONAL LEAGUE ROUNDUP; Peavy Is Dominant As Padres Rout Reds". The New York Times. September 14, 2006. Retrieved August 1, 2010.
- "Houston Astros Batting Leaders". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved September 22, 2008.
- Lance Berkman Player Profiles
- Molony, Jim (November 20, 2006). "Berkman finishes third in MVP voting". Major League Baseball. Retrieved August 9, 2010.
- Lance Berkman’s long slump. Letterman books a real star. SportsJustice, by Richard Justice
- Splash Hits List MLB.com
- Leach, Matthew (November 17, 2008). "Crowning achievement: Pujols NL MVP | MLB.com: News". MLB.com. Retrieved August 3, 2010.
- Ortiz, Jose de Jesus (June 14, 2009). "Berkman, Tejada put milestones to good use". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved August 9, 2010.
- "Yankees make Berkman Deal Official". Yankees.lhblogs.com. July 31, 2010. Retrieved July 31, 2010.
- McTaggart, Brian (July 30, 2010). "Astros finalize Berkman deal with Yankees". Pressbox.mlb.com. Retrieved July 30, 2010.
- Yankees decline options on Berkman, Wood, Johnson The LoHud Yankees Blog
- Thriving Berkman marvels at Series' drama MLB.com
- "Rangers Reach Deal With Lance Berkman". CBS Dallas/Fort Worth. January 5, 2013. Retrieved January 5, 2013.
- "Berkman has dreams of coaching at UT". MLB.com. Retrieved May 12, 2009.
- Lance Berkman Athletic Celeberity Marketing
- Berkman plays despite sore hand MLB.com
- "Berkman's Just Fine As Is". chron.com. Retrieved January 5, 2009.
- "Faith and America's Favorite Pastime". chron.com. Retrieved January 5, 2009.
- "Lance Berkman: True Satisfaction – The 700 Club". Cbn.com. Retrieved September 28, 2011.
- Baldwin, Tony. "Berkman is clutch both on and off the field". EveryJoe. Retrieved 3 July 2013.
- Pollock, Bill. "Berkman makes Forbes’ list of 30 Most Generous Celebrities". MissouriNet. Unknown parameter
|acce ssdate=ignored (help)
- "The Z Report: I am partly responsible for the nickname "Big Puma"...well, kind of". chron.com. Retrieved January 5, 2009.
- "Mailbag: Berkman the 'Big Puma?'". MLB.com. Retrieved January 5, 2009.
- "Berkman enjoying fruits of labor". MLB.com. Retrieved January 5, 2009.
- "Little Puma Roster". Thelittlepumas.com. May 23, 2008. Retrieved August 3, 2010.
- "MLB Pro Blog: NLCS: Astros v Cardinals". Birth of the B's. Major League Baseball. Retrieved April 21, 2011.
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
- Lance Berkman Scouting Report from Dugout Central
|National League Player of the Month