By the 2007 season the Philadelphia Phillies had been legitimate playoff contenders in the National League for the better part of a half-dozen seasons. That year the club would finally kick down the postseason door with a tremendous September rally, helped along by an epic New York Mets collapse.
Early in that final month of the season the Phillies made a relatively insignificant roster move, selecting 29-year-old Pete LaForest off waivers from the San Diego Padres. After playing in 10 games all year with the Padres, LaForest would make 14 appearances with the Phillies during that final crucial month – all of those as a pinch-hitter.
A native of Canada, LaForest had been drafted by the old Montreal Expos franchise all the way back in 1995 out of a Montreal high school in the 16th round. That selection came one round after the Expos had chosen a California high school catcher by the name of Tom Brady. Yes, that Tom Brady.
LaForest played just two games with Montreal’s rookie-level affiliate when he was granted free agency. He would not hook on with another club for nearly two years, signing with the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays in May 1997.
After spending more than a half-dozen years rising incrementally through the Tampa minor league system, LaForest finally made his debut in Major League Baseball when rosters expanded in September 2003. At age 25, he would appear in 19 games that month with the DRays.
LaForest would appear with Team Canada at the 2004 Olympics, but it would be two more years before he would get another big-league shot. The DRays called him up to Tampa in late July of 2005 and he would spend the rest of the season with them. He appeared in 25 more games during which LaForest would enjoy his first home run in the majors.
After appearing again with Team Canada, this time at the inaugural World Baseball Classic in 2006, LaForest spent a final year in the Rays organization. Granted free agency following the season he signed on with the San Diego Padres prior to spring training in 2007.
LaForest appeared twice with the Padres in the 2007 season, for six games in April and then four more in August. His final appearance with San Diego actually came at Citizens Bank Park against the Phillies on August 26, 2007. Pat Gillick must have liked something about him, because less than two weeks later he was picked up after being released and was making his Phillies debut.
On September 5, 2007 at Turner Field in Atlanta, manager Charlie Manuel sent LaForest up to pinch-hit for reliever Kane Davis. On a 1-2 pitch from Oscar Villareal, he lined a clean base hit to right field scoring Greg Dobbs with a run that extended a Phillies lead out to 6-2. Two batters later he would roll home on a Chase Utley single in what turned into an 8-6 Phillies victory.
LaForest would receive 14 pinch-hitting opportunities from Manuel during that critical month as the Phillies rallied from seven games out on September 12 to capture their first division crown in 14 years. He walked twice, but that single in Atlanta would be his only hit in a Phillies uniform.
The Phillies kept him through spring training in 2008 and had him start the year with Triple-A Lehigh Valley but released him on April 18. The Florida Marlins brought him to spring training in 2009 but he was again released and has not been with an MLB organization since.
LaForest then spent the majority of the next five years playing back home in independent ball with the Canadian-American Association. From 2013-16 he served as manager with Trois-Rivières Aigles in Canadian pro baseball.
In May 2017, LaForest launched the B45 Academy in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Working with other former big-leaguers he hopes to start youth players on the way to their own advanced baseball opportunities.