By Barry M.
Bloom / MLB.com
statement on passing of Rod Beck
Sox have fond memories of Beck
notes: Remembering Rod Beck
FRANCISCO -- Rod Beck, a former reliever for the
Giants, Padres, Cubs and Red Sox, has passed
away, the Giants said on Sunday. Beck was 38
Beck's body was found in bed at noon on Saturday
by two female friends who were visiting his
North Phoenix home and there was no sign of foul
play, said Sgt. Andy Hill, a spokesman for the
Phoenix Police Dept., which was dispatched to
the residence along with medics from the Phoenix
Fire Dept. The Giants were informed of Beck's
death on Saturday night and told the players,
announcers and front-office staff, who were
openly talking about the death prior to Sunday's
7-2 victory over the Yankees at AT&T Park.
"It comes as a complete shock," said Barry
Bonds, who played with Beck on the Giants from
1993-97. "We all just found out. He was a great
guy, great for us when he was here."
No cause was released, pending an autopsy and
possible toxicology report, Hill said, adding
that an investigation is standard when a dead
body is found alone. Also, Hill said undisclosed
evidence was confiscated from the scene by
investigating officers. Beck had a history of
substance abuse and went into drug rehab only
months before his career ended with the Padres
in 2004, when current Giants skipper Bruce Bochy
was the manager in San Diego.
"We tried everything we could do to help him,"
Beck came up with the Giants in 1991 and holds
the team record for most saves in a single
season with 48 in 1993, although his career best
was 51 for the Cubs in 1998. His 199 saves with
the Giants is second in club history to Robb Nen,
who finished with 206, and his 286 saves during
his 13-year career places him 22nd on Major
League Baseball's all-time list.
A three-time All-Star with the Giants, Beck was
nicknamed "Shooter" by his teammates on that
1993 team that won 103 games but lost the
National League West title on the last day of
the season to the Braves.
"Because he was a gunslinger, man," said Mike
Krukow, the former Giants pitcher and current
announcer who retired in 1989, before Beck
joined the team. "That's the way he approached
everything. He had a huge heart, a Hall of Fame
Beck was estranged from his wife, Stacy, who
traveled to California, where the couple's two
daughters were in camp.
The Giants were told about Beck's death on
Saturday night by Rick Thurmond, Beck's agent,
who requested that the team refrain from issuing
a formal statement until the girls were
"Rod became a fixture in the San Francisco
community where he spent most of his career,"
Thurman said on Sunday. "Shooter was a
hard-nosed, blue-collar kind of guy who wore his
heart on his sleeve, and that is what made him
so endearing to baseball fans everywhere."
The Giants family has been rocked by a number of
deaths in the last year or two, including Tom
Haller, Ed Bailey, Jose Uribe, Chris Brown, Pat
Dobson and Harmon Burns, the team's majority
owner. Beck's was the latest to digest.
"Everyone in the Giants organization is deeply
saddened by the loss of a dear friend," Peter
Magowan, the team's managing general partner,
said. "Rod Beck was a true Giant in every sense
of the word -- from his dedication on the field
to his selflessness away from the park. Today,
our hearts go out to the Beck family. Rod will
be deeply missed."
"He was just a regular person," added Brian
Sabean, the team's general manager. "I don't
want to say he was almost like a civilian in the
clubhouse, but he wasn't at all like a baseball
player. He loved cowboy boots, he loved kids, he
loved country music and he loved to smoke
cigarettes. He was an upbeat personality who
respected the game, loved the game and loved the
Giants. His stay here certainly set the tone for
a lot of things we were able to do."
Likewise, the Padres have had their share of
bereavement. Since Alan Wiggins died in 1991,
Eric Show, Jack Krol, Mike Darr and Ken Caminiti
have all perished young. Bochy, then a backup
catcher, played with Wiggins and Show and when
Krol was a coach on San Diego's 1994 NL
pennant-winning team. Bochy managed Darr,
Caminiti and Beck during his 12 seasons in the
San Diego dugout.
Wiggins, Show and Caminiti all suffered
drug-related deaths. And Beck was barely
beginning his second season with the Padres when
he went into rehab. He was released by the team
on Aug. 24, 2004, and never pitched in the Major
"[Beck] went out and got some help, I know
that," Bochy said on Sunday. "In '04, during the
spring, he had some problems. That's when he
went into rehab, but I don't know where."
The previous season, with Trevor Hoffman
recovering from shoulder surgery, Beck was
reclaimed off the junk heap and saved 20 games
in 20 chances. It was one of the top feel-good
stories in San Diego of an otherwise dreary 2003
season, the last for the franchise at Qualcomm
Stadium in Mission Valley.
"This is a bad day in baseball to lose a guy at
such an early age who's done so much for the
game," Bochy said. "[In San Diego], what a job
he did for us. We were desperate at the time for
a closer. I know he and Trevor became very good
friends. He was such a warrior on the mound.
Anybody who played with Rod Beck can tell you
just what a great teammate he was, what a big
heart he had."
Beck grew up in the Los Angeles area and was
drafted in 1986 by the A's, who traded him to
the Giants two years later. His San Francisco
run ended when he became a free agent after the
NL West-winning 1997 season, and he signed with
the Cubs. Beck was on the mound against the
Giants a year later and closed the NL Wild Card
playoff game at Wrigley Field, putting the Cubs
back into the playoffs for the first time since
1989. But he was traded to Boston before the
1999 season was complete.
Though his Cubs tenure lasted less than two
years, he was fondly remembered in Chicago. Last
Sept. 2 at Wrigley, Beck was invited back for a
Giants-Cubs game to throw out the first pitch
and sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."
"I heard the stories that he said, 'I'll pitch
every day,' and that's the attitude I have
towards pitching," said Cubs reliever Scott
Eyre, who like Beck, lists the Giants and Cubs
on his resume. "He pitched every single day and
he saved every game for weeks straight. He went
out there with nothing, and still had all the
confidence in the world."
Beck's Boston tenure was equally as short,
lasting little more than two years before he
blew out his right elbow. But "Shooter" still
had his impact.
"I'm just a little lost for words," said Jason
Varitek, the Red Sox catcher, who played with
Beck during those years. "He didn't have the
same fastball by the time he got to Boston, but
you learn different ways to succeed. He could
pitch. More so, he was just such a great
teammate. A great person to be around. I just
can't say enough about what a great teammate he
Beck missed the 2002 season after having Tommy
John surgery, but in early 2003 he tried to
rejuvenate his career with the Triple-A Iowa
Cubs. In Des Moines, he became a mini
personality, living in his mobile home outside
the outfield fence and drinking beer with fans
when they dropped by to visit.
"He came there and his stuff wasn't what it was,
but he had the savvy and the desire, even in
Triple-A," said Mike Quade, the Cubs' third-base
coach now and the Iowa manager back then. "It
wasn't easy for him. He had a trailer and lived
outside the ballpark. He was a fun-loving guy, a
competitive guy, and he loved life."
With Beck's passing, that's undoubtedly the way
he will be remembered most.