Chicago Cubs All-Time Lists

Chicago Cubs: A look back at great North Side pitchers of the 1990s

October 13, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs former player Kerry Wood throws out the ceremonial first pitch before the Cubs play against the St. Louis Cardinals in game four of the NLDS at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
October 13, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs former player Kerry Wood throws out the ceremonial first pitch before the Cubs play against the St. Louis Cardinals in game four of the NLDS at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports /

Proving doubters wrong, Beck leads Cubs’ pen

At the end of the 1997 season, the San Francisco Giants tapped Robb Nen as the team’s new closer, allowing Rod Beck to move on to greener pastures.

Chicago Cubs
Chicago Cubs /

Chicago Cubs

Why not? He was heading into his age-29 season and had struggled at times as the team’s ninth-inning man. Beck packed his bags and headed to the North Side, where he excelled in his first season.

Racking up a staggering 51 saves, Beck was part of a second-place Cubs team that won 90 games behind Sammy Sosa and Kerry Wood. He pitched over 80 innings, averaging roughly a strikeout per inning to go along with his 4.05 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Now, baseball fans remember Beck for his tragic death, which is believed to be related to drug addiction. At just 38 years of age, the closer was found dead in his home. Known as an intimidating player – he had just as big a heart as anyone.

"“His image was not something he was,” Tim Wakefield, Beck’s teammate from 1999-2001 in Boston told ESPN. “He had a huge heart, and was so humble. He was so full of life.”"

Over the course of his career, Beck saved 286 contests. It’s hard to quantify the style which he played the game. The above ESPN piece that was written in wake of his death does a masterful job at getting to know the man beneath the mullet, if you will.

51 saves, the infamous Brant Brown game and the love of the Bleacher Bums. If nothing else, Beck brought life and energy to the game. Here’s to you, Shooter.

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