Friday, February 18, 2022

A tip of the cap to Ryan Zimmerman, retiring after a fine career...


Chapter 32

from One Pitch at a Time


October 31, 2019

Crusty’s Corner

by R.Q. Crutchfeld


The World Series ended last night with the Washington Nationals defeating the Houston Astro 6 - 2 to claim the trophy for the first time in franchise history. It’s always fun when the series goes to Game 7. After 162 regular season games and multiple playoff rounds, it all came down to one game. For a baseball fan, the anticipation was terrific, and the game did not disappoint.

Nats pitcher Stephen Strasberg was named the MVP, and rightfully so. And the series provided a showcase for many of the brightest young stars of the game. But for this old newsboy, the most satisfying outcome was to see two battle scarred veterans earn World Series rings. I’m talking about Howie Kendrick and Ryan Zimmerman.

Howie was a favorite of mine when he played for the L.A. Angels, always solid, reliable, and productive, if unspectacular. To see him contribute big hits throughout the postseason brought a smile to my face. His homerun last night gave the Nats a lead they would not relinquish.

In 2005, Ryan Zimmerman became the first draft pick of the newly relocated Washington franchise. His career has been plagued by injury, but he always found a way to bounce back.

Case in point: Zimmerman began the 2017 season with a hot streak. Through 32 games, he was hitting .410 with 12 homeruns. He went on to an outstanding season, including a start at first base in the All-Star Game and recognition as Comeback Player of the Year.

Here’s an interesting statistic: Walk-off Homeruns. Jim Thome holds the all-time record with 13. There are six guys tied at 12 (Babe Ruth, Jimmy Foxx, Stan Musial, Mickey Mantle, Frank Robinson, and Albert Pujols). And then three players tied with 11 (Tony Perez, David Ortiz, and Ryan Zimmerman). Yep, there’s that name again, and that is one hell of a list to be on.

The great ones don’t play the game with the goal of winding up on some obscure list. They play to be known as champions, to be on the field celebrating when the last out of the final game of the season is made. It felt right that Howie and Zimm got to celebrate last night at Minute Maid Park in Houston.