Goodbye to The Shooter
Former Cub closer Rod Beck passed away on Saturday, ending the days of one of the most colorful characters to play on the North Side in ages. Beck didn't look like a stud closer: He sported a fu manchu mustache and a wicked mullet that flowed majestically in the breeze. He boasted a beer belly that would make John Goodman jealous. And, funnily, Beck had these dainty little feet that almost made him look ... graceful.
A lot of memories about Beck have come up over the last few days, such as the way he dangled his arm at his side before unleashing a surprisingly effective—if not exactly blazing—fastball. Or when he rang up 51 saves in 1998, the year the Cubs won the Wild Card (and promptly got swept by the Braves in the playoffs). But what people seem to remember most is that he was down-to-earth and approachable, and not one of these inscrutable robo-athletes (hello, Mark Prior) or scary competitive dudes who's just as likely to punch a teammate as he is strike out the side (what's up, Carlos Zambrano). Beck was known for hanging out (gasp!) after the game and shooting the shit over a few beers. That continued after he left the pros—when Beck went to Des Moines to try to catch on with the Triple A Cubs, he lived in a RV behind the stadium's centerfield wall and would hang out with whoever would pull up a seat with him.
So tonight, raise a glass to the memory of Rod Beck, who brought some flair to Wrigley Field. But don't make it no fancypants microbrew. The Shooter wouldn't have wanted it that way.