Sad news came out today that Rod Beck, the lock solid closer of the 1998 Cubs that won the wild card after a one game playoff at the end of the season, has passed away. If you’re a guy like me you always liked a guy like Rod Beck, known by his nickname “Shooter”. He had the ambiance of an everyday Joe who just so happened to make it to the big leagues. He was the type of guy that caters to the boyhood dreams of baseball stardom that just about any man who played baseball as a kid has had. He was just that down to earth and genuine.
He had the appearance of an old school closer — the odd facial hair, the intense gaze, the mammoth frame from which he hurled the ball. But that Rod Beck had a hard time living up to the real Rod Beck — a down to earth and modest man from what everyone who has known him has said. In 2003 when he was trying to make a comeback with the Iowa Cubs he would park his RV outside the stadium and invite anyone, fans included, to come join him for a beer and to sit and talk about baseball.
Old school, we will not see his like again.
In this day and age of multi-million dollar contracts, marketing, agents, licensing and a dollar sign attached to virtually everything that is baseball Rod Beck was an anachronism. His teammates have spoken about how he’s been in the clubhouse with a beer in one hand and a smoke in the other — just sitting back, talking about the game, and passing on what he had learned.
The Cubs disappointed me with how quickly they rid themselves of Shooter. Despite his problems I always felt the guy deserved more than what he got from the organization. He was a class act, a memorable Cub among many memorable Cubs and baseball just feels a bit more disconnected now that the Shooter is gone.
Rest in peace Rod, we’ll miss you.