The A’s second pick in the 1998 free-agent draft, Mulder added a slider to his repertoire in his first year of pro ball — nearly earning him a ticket to the majors. Armed with an array of pitches (including a split-fingered fastball) the tall lefty won a spot on the big-league roster the following year, and showed flashes of brilliance until a herniated disk ended his season. He returned in 2001 as one of the main cogs in a young staff that also boasted young guns Tim Hudson and Barry Zito.
Mulder’s other passion was golf, having first hit the links with his father at an early age. (“You quit golfing,” said his dad, “when your 9-year-old beats you.”) One observer ranked him as one of the best golfers in recent club history, along with Ron Darling and Rick Honeycutt.