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Thursday, October 31, 2013
From White Sox OF to U.S. ambassador

By Doug Padilla

CHICAGO -- That cup of coffee Mark Gilbert had with the Chicago White Sox in 1985 pales in comparison to his next assignment.

Gilbert has been nominated by President Obama to be the United States ambassador to New Zealand. If confirmed by the Senate, Gilbert would replace David Huebner.

At age 28, Gilbert played in just seven games with the White Sox, batting a respectable .273 (6-for-22) with three runs scored and three RBIs. The former 14th-round draft pick by the Chicago Cubs in 1978, saw a quick end to his major league days after a knee injury required the outfielder to undergo surgery.

He ended up putting a finance degree from Florida State to work, most recently serving as a director at Barclays Wealth (formerly Lehman Brothers). The 57-year-old was previously a senior vice president at Goldman Sachs. Both of those finance positions were in South Florida.

Gilbert is poised to be the first former major leaguer to serve as an ambassador. There have been baseball executives to serve as ambassadors, including Texas Rangers president Tom Schieffer.

Many athletes have served as elected officials, and in honor of Election Day on Tuesday, here is a sampling:

  • Jim Bunning: Played for the Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies. Served in the U.S. House of Representatives (1987-93) and the U.S. Senate (1993-2005), representing Kentucky.

  • Kevin Johnson: Played for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Phoenix Suns. Is mayor of Sacramento, Calif.

  • Bill Bradley: Played for the New York Knicks. Served as U.S. Senator from New Jersey from 1979-1997.

  • Dave Bing: Played for the Detroit Pistons. Is mayor of Detroit.

  • Jack Kemp: Played for the Buffalo Bills. Was a nine-term congressman from New York, also served as Housing Secretary under George H.W. Bush and was 1996 Republican vice presidential nominee.

  • Jesse Ventura: Was a professional wrestler. Served as governor of Minnesota, 1999-2003.