Here’s another one of the San Jose Giants cards from 1989 sitting in a shoebox.
I already did a post for James Malseen. Click here for the image of his amazing fake slide to second.
But hey! Here is Rod Beck, aka Shooter, a pitcher who not only made it to the majors but made 3 different All Star Teams and played in three straight post seasons with three different franchises.
The late pitcher was named Rodney Roy Beck, which when you think of it would have been a great baseball name. Originally an A’s farm hand, he was traded to the Giants before the 1988 season. As the parent team was winning the 1989 pennant, Beck was doing well in San Jose and posed for this awkwardly staged card photo.
Beck made the major league squad in 1991 and by 1993, he was an All Star reliever. He was a throwback reliever who looked like he would have fit in with Rich Gossage and Bruce Sutter from another time.
He looked like a regular guy with a belly, big mustache and intense enthusiasm on the mound.
He struckout more than a batter per inning and in 1993 had a 6.62 strikeout to walk ratio. He finished in the top 10 for the Cy Young vote in 1994 where he was the Rolaids Relief Award winner.
His eye popping numbers began to drop but he remained not only a reliable closer but a fan favorite. Beck finally clinched a division title in 1997 and got his first taste of the post season.
Beck’s Giants career ended in the 1997 Division Series. Sensing his career was on the downturn, San Francisco let Beck walk to the Cubs. In the end, Beck saved 51 games for Chicago. The final save was a tie breaker for the NL Wild Card. The team he beat? The San Francisco Giants.
It was a sweet moment for Beck, who again saw his team get swept in the post season. But the end was coming. He suffered through injuries in 1999 before being dealt to Boston for their pennant run. Beck pitched well in his month with the Red Sox but let up Bernie Williams’ walk off homer in Game 1 of the 1999 ALCS. He had Tommy John surgery after his 2001 season in Boston.
Beck had a nice comeback which endeared him to his fans. While rehabbing with the Iowa Cubs, he lived in a mobile home next to the stadium and interacted with the fans. In 2003 he made a brief comeback with the Padres but his career was over after 2004.
Sadly the fun affable Beck was dealing with cocaine and heroin issues and was found dead in his home during the 2007 season.
Still loved by Giants and Cubs fans, Beck seemed like one of us on the mound and in the end was as flawed as many of us are. Overweight with vices, but loving baseball and excited to be on the mound.
Why is he still loved? Because we see ourselves in Shooter.