Joe Pass played four seasons in the Frontier League and made the most of his experience. He played second base and left field, spending three seasons with the Richmond Roosters, and one as a player-manager with the Dubois County Dragons.
He entered the league and signed with the Richmond Roosters in 1996 after participating in a tryout camp in Florida in February of that year. In his time with Richmond, Pass formed relationships with a number of teammates, including Frontier League Hall of Famer, Morgan Burkhart. Burkhart left Richmond after playing there from 1995-1998, signing with the Boston Red Sox in 1999 and going on to play three seasons in the Major Leagues.
“He was a great guy, someone I considered a role model, and someone I still maintain a relationship with today,” said Pass.
Pass also had a great season his first year, making the All-Star Team and earning MVP honors in the game that year, a year in which Pete Rose was invited as a guest of honor.
Pass went on to play in four Frontier League All-Star games. In both the 1996 and 1999 seasons, he was also named a Post-Season All-Star.
After the 1998 season, he agreed to become player-manager for the Dubois County Dragons.
“That experience was challenging. It was difficult being the peer of someone who you may have to release or get rid of down the road.”
During much of his playing career, Pass also balanced baseball with law school in the offseason. Therefore, he could not attend the tryout camp and draft before the 1999 season. This forced him to make a number of decisions on players that he may not have ever seen play in person.
He finished law school in 2000 and decided to focus solely on his career in law. He ended his time in the Frontier League with a .325 career average, with 133 RBIs and a .391 OBP.
A year later, however, he made his way back into the game. Joe Clemente, a former Frontier League player that Pass had met in Kalamazoo, reached out to him with an offer to play in Europe. Clemente was the manager of a baseball team in Italy at the time and remembered that Pass was Italian from when they both spent time in the league. Pass was able to obtain his Italian citizenship and then played one more year of baseball in Italy.
“Playing in Italy was a phenomenal experience. It is funny how a short-lived bond in the Frontier League catapulted me into something totally different and unique overseas,” noted Pass.
Since then, Pass has been representing labor unions and employees while practicing labor and employment law in Pittsburgh.
Pass noted the impact that baseball has had on his life:
“It has taught me to really appreciate what you have when you have it. It was difficult to grasp at that age, but that was the most fun time in my life,” said Pass.
Reflecting on the honor of being inducted into the Frontier League Hall of Fame, Pass said:
“It’s awesome. In what I do now, there is a lot of winning and losing. This is almost the equivalent of getting a great decision. It’s flattering and is definitely one of the highlights of my life.”
You can watch Joe Pass and other inductees give their Hall of Fame speeches at the ceremony in Washington right here: https://frontierleague.vhx.tv/videos/flhofceremony