Chicago Cubs: Looking back at the career of Rod Beck

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Tuesday marked the eighth anniversary of the death of former Chicago Cubs closer Rod Beck. To honor the late ninth-inning arm, we look back at his big league career.


Rod “Shooter” Beck isn’t one of the best closers we’ve seen in the long, storied history of the Chicago Cubs organization. That being said, he played a big part in the historic 1998 season, one of my personal favorite memories as a baseball fan.

That year, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire battled each other all season long for the home run crown, with the Cubs outfielder ending the year with 66 bombs compared to Big Mac’s historic 70 homers.

Prior to the season, Harry Caray died at 83, prompting the team to honor him during the 162-game marathon during which young Texas fireballer Kerry Wood posted 20 strikeouts in a start mid-season, tying a Major League record. Chicago, meanwhile, went 90-73 before bowing out in the NLDS in three-straight to the Atlanta Braves.

That being said, it was a thrilling summer to be a Cubs fan and Beck certainly played his part in that excitement.

The mustached right-hander nailed down 51 saves that year – a career-high for Beck, making 81 appearances, which led all of Major League Baseball. His other numbers weren’t that great, to be blunt, as he pitched to a 4.32 earned run average that was backed up by an equally unimpressive 4.27 FIP and 1.450 WHIP.

His most infamous performance, however, came on a fateful game on Sept. 23 that is now known simply as the “Brant Brown Game.”

With just three games left in the season, Chicago had a two-run lead in the bottom of the ninth against the Milwaukee Brewers. With the bases loaded and two outs, Milwaukee outfielder Geoff Jenkins hit a lazy fly ball to Brant Brown, who subsequently dropped it, allowing three runs to score – sending Milwaukee to a win.

By now, you’ve all heard the reaction of Chicago Cubs broadcaster and Hall of Famer Ron Santo, but for good measure, here it is again.

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Beck brought character to the clubhouse, whether it be during his time in Chicago or toward the latter stages of his career when he bounced around a bit.

If you still don’t believe me, look no further than this quote I dug up:

"“I sure don’t think of myself as a fat person, just someone who carries extra weight. I’ve never seen anyone on the DL with pulled fat.”To be fair, he makes a pretty solid point here. But that’s neither here nor there.No matter how, though, Beck got the job done more often than not – a trend that began during his time in San Francisco, where he spent the overwhelming majority of his big league career.In seven seasons with the Giants, the hefty right-hander nailed things down 199 times– the majority of his 286 career saves. He bounced around near the end of his playing days, appearing with the San Diego Padres and Boston Red Sox, even pitching to a sub-2.00 ERA in his second-to-last season in baseball in 2003.While he is merely a footnote in Chicago Cubs history, Rod Beck gave us all entertainment and 58 saves in his one-plus years in the Windy City.He may not have been the model of physique or the most well-polished of big league players, but he knew how to handle his business and I know, at the very least, I appreciate that.Next: Could Cubs pitcher Jackson be dealt this summer? “I sure don’t think of myself as a fat person, just someone who carries extra weight. I’ve never seen anyone on the DL with pulled fat.”"

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