Sunday, July 10, 2005

Reminiscing on Rusty

I turned the radio on this afternoon just in time to hear the Rusty Greer Day ceremony that was held before the Rangers game. He's one of only a few Ranger players to have a day named in their honor (Nolan Ryan and Jim Sundberg were among the others), and I can't think of anyone more deserving.

Going to Ranger games in the '90s meant the opportunity to see the hardworking young outfielder who was known for clutch hits in the late innings and game-saving diving catches in the field (often at the expense of his body, which no doubt contributed to a career that was all too short). The catch that will always be burned in Ranger fans' memories is the one that saved Kenny Rogers' perfect game in 1994, but he did that kind of thing so often that it was almost expected.

Besides the usual highlight-film montage (which was replaced on the radio broadcast by play-by-play clips, many featuring the late, great Mark Holtz), the club gave Rusty a new pickup truck. Riding in the back of the truck were a couple of surprises: his former teammates Will Clark and Mickey Tettleton, who were also known as blue-collar players who gave their all for the game. Clark spoke for a minute, reminding us what a privilege it was to see Rusty do his thing; I doubt that many who heard those words needed much convincing.

Rusty spent his entire career, minors to majors, with the Rangers organization, which doesn't happen much anymore. There were plenty of other old-school attributes about him; the most common phrases used to describe him were "he gave 110%," "he left everything on the field at the end of the game," and "he played the game the way it's supposed to be played." I'm glad I got to see him play as often as I did, and I'm sure that his legacy will live on in the organization for years to come.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "AVOID A LITTER! FIX YOUR CRITTER!"--on a license plate frame that I saw on a truck parked, appropriately enough, in front of the pet store.


Jazzy G said...

This is so stupid I have to share..
When I first read your Quote of the Day I thought, "What does spaying or neutering your pet have to do with throwing trash away?" Then I yawned, read it again, and realized that apparently my IQ drops significantly when I first wake up in the morning. I don't even have a good excuse for thinking my stupid thought. Mom worked for a vet for over 20 years, and I spent a lot of time in the vet clinic as a little kid. So.. you all may commence pointing and laughing now.

Gary P. said...

Rusty spent his entire career, minors to majors, with the Rangers organization, which doesn't happen much anymore.

It has never happened all that much at any point in MLB history. Among Hall of Famers, there's virtually no difference between the percentage of one-team players who played before free agency and the percentage who have played since the mid 70's.

My strongest memory of him will also be the catches in the perfect game, but my most recent memory of this blue-collar hard-working hero was how he signed a three-year contract for 20-some-odd million dollars after the 2001 season then immediately hit the DL for all but about the first two months during the time that contract was in effect. If he were a black dude, there would be no shortage of stories about how he was a malingering clubhouse cancer who got lazy after signing the big contract and was content to just cash his checks after that.