Rod Beck
Rod Beck.jpg
Beck, pictured at 2007 Cubs Convention
Born: (1968-08-03)August 3, 1968
Burbank, California
Died: June 23, 2007(2007-06-23) (aged 38)
Phoenix, Arizona
Batted: Right
Threw: Right
MLB debut
May 6, 1991, for the San Francisco Giants
Last MLB appearance
August 14, 2004, for the San Diego Padres
MLB statistics
Win–loss record38–45
Earned run average3.30
Career highlights and awards

Rodney Roy Beck (August 3, 1968 – June 23, 2007[1]), nicknamed "Shooter", was a relief pitcher in Major League Baseball who played for the San Francisco Giants (19911997), Chicago Cubs (19981999), Boston Red Sox (1999–2001) and San Diego Padres (20032004). He batted and threw right-handed.[2]


San Francisco Giants

The Oakland Athletics drafted Beck as a starting pitcher in the 13th round (327th pick) of the 1986 Major League Baseball Draft.[3] Prior to the 1988 season, he was traded to the San Francisco Giants organization.[2] In 1989, while with the San Jose Giants of the California League, he posted a record of 11–2 between opening day and June 14, when he was promoted to the Shreveport Captains of the Double A Texas League.[4][5]

Beck made his Major League debut on May 6, 1991,[2] against the Montreal Expos. His performance was forgettable (2.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER),[6] but his season numbers were more impressive. He had a 3.78 ERA, pitched 52+13 innings in 31 games, and struck out 38 while walking 13.[2] In 1992, Beck took over as the regular closer from Dave Righetti and posted a record of 3–3 with 17 saves and a 1.76 ERA. He pitched 92 innings over 65 games and struck out 87 while walking only 15.[7] In 1993 he recorded 48 saves, including 24 consecutive. At the time, both marks were Giants franchise records.[8] Beck found success using a sinker, slider, and splitter.[9]

September 18, 1997

On September 17 and 18, 1997, the Los Angeles Dodgers came to San Francisco to play a two-game series at Candlestick Park.[10] The Dodgers were leading the National League West with a record of 84–67. The Giants were in 2nd place with a record of 82–69; 2 games behind.[11] The Giants won the first game 2–1 behind lefty Kirk Rueter. In that contest, Barry Bonds hit a two-run homer in the first inning for the Giants, while Raúl Mondesí hit a solo shot in the fifth for the Dodgers. Beck did not pitch in the game.[12]

On September 18, he came into the game in the top of the 10th with the score tied 5–5.[13] As the season had progressed, Beck had lost his closer's job to Roberto Hernández.[14] In fact, Beck had blown a save three days earlier in Atlanta while trying to close that game. He had given up 4 earned runs in just 23 of an inning.[15] Beck got into trouble immediately by giving up consecutive singles to Mike Piazza, Eric Karros, and Raúl Mondesí.[16] With the bases loaded, nobody out and the crowd booing loudly, manager Dusty Baker came out to talk to Beck, who was obviously struggling. Baker told Beck, "You're the guy."[17]

Baker left Beck in, and Beck proceeded to strike out Todd Zeile looking at an inside-corner fastball. When he got pinch hitter Eddie Murray to bounce a splitter into an inning-ending double play, the crowd of 52,188 went crazy. Two innings later, Giants reserve catcher Brian Johnson led off with a home run to left field, giving Beck a 6–5 win. The Giants, now tied with the Dodgers for the division lead,[13] would go on to win the Western Division crown.[14]

Chicago Cubs

After the 1997 season, the Giants felt Beck's best years were behind him, and allowed him to leave as a free agent to sign with the Chicago Cubs, replacing him with Robb Nen.[18] Beck set a career high in saves in 1998, his first season with the Cubs, converting 51 of 58 chances.[2] However, in the 1999 season, Beck battled injury, and was traded by Chicago to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for reliever Mark Guthrie and a player to be named later,[19] who turned out to be Cole Liniak.[20]

Boston Red Sox

Beck pitched well for the surging Red Sox, although he struggled in the postseason (giving up a Bernie Williams walk-off home run in Game One of the 1999 ALCS)[21] and was not as good in his two full seasons with the team as he had been in the past.[2] After the 2001 season, Beck had Tommy John surgery and missed the 2002 season.[22]

Beck to the Minors

Beck successfully recovered from Tommy John surgery and, as a free agent, was signed by the Cubs in January 2003.[22] While pitching for the team's AAA affiliate Iowa Cubs during his comeback, Beck gained national attention for living in a motor home behind the team's Sec Taylor Stadium (now Principal Park) in Des Moines. Beck warmly welcomed fans to drop by and visit, signed autographs and offered free beer.[23] This time he did not play in the majors for the Cubs, and they released him in May 2003.[2]

San Diego Padres

Immediately after leaving the Cubs in 2003, Beck returned to the Major Leagues with the Padres[2] to fill in for the injured Trevor Hoffman.[24] He converted 20 saves in 20 chances, while posting a 1.78 ERA.[2] His statistics earned him the National League Comeback Player of the Year award.[25] In 2004, Beck dealt with personal problems during Spring Training[26] and struggled in a seventh inning role for the Padres. Beck was released by San Diego in August.[2]


On June 23, 2007, Beck died alone at his home in Phoenix, Arizona.[1][27] The Maricopa County medical examiner did not publicly disclose the cause of death and the Phoenix police did not suspect foul play.[1] Beck's ex-wife stated she believed Beck's death to be drug related.[28] Cocaine and heroin were found in his home and bedroom.[29]

Beck was buried in Phoenix wearing his Chicago Cubs uniform despite pitching only two seasons for the team.[30] He was added to the 2008 ballot for the Baseball Hall of Fame, earlier than the typical retirement rule due to his death,[31] and received two votes.[32]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Haller, Doug; Fehr-Snyder, Kerry (24 June 2007). "Ex-closer Beck dies at 38". The Arizona Republic. Retrieved 30 September 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Rod Beck Statistics and History". Baseball Reference. Archived from the original on 2011-04-30. Retrieved 6 May 2011.
  3. ^ "1986 MLB Draft History – Round 13". Archived from the original on 2011-07-27. Retrieved 6 May 2011.
  4. ^ "Rod Beck Minor League Statistics". Baseball Reference. Archived from the original on 2011-06-04. Retrieved 6 May 2011.
  5. ^ Lampe, Chris R. (July 8, 2007). "Thirteen Games to Stardom: Memories of Rod Beck". SJ Giants Fans. Archived from the original on 2008-08-27. Retrieved 6 May 2011.
  6. ^ "Expos 10, Giants 4". Baseball Reference. Archived from the original on 2007-10-16. Retrieved 6 May 2011.
  7. ^ "1992 San Francisco Giants: Batting, Pitching, & Fielding Statistics". Baseball Reference. Archived from the original on 2000-09-14. Retrieved 6 May 2011.
  8. ^ "Rod Beck". Baseball Library. Archived from the original on 2007-05-18. Retrieved 6 May 2011.
  9. ^ James, Bill; Neyer, Rob (2004-06-15). The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers: An Historical Compendium of Pitching, Pitchers, and Pitches. Simon and Schuster. p. 130. ISBN 9780743261586. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
  10. ^ "1997 Los Angeles Dodgers Schedule". Baseball Almanac. Archived from the original on 2002-12-30. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
  11. ^ "Los Angeles Dodgers vs San Francisco Giants September 17, 1997, Box Score". Baseball Almanac. Archived from the original on 2009-07-26. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
  12. ^ "San Francisco Giants 2, Los Angeles Dodgers 1". Retrosheet. Archived from the original on 2021-09-02. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
  13. ^ a b "San Francisco Giants 6, Los Angeles Dodgers 5". Retrosheet. Archived from the original on 2021-03-08. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
  14. ^ a b "1997 San Francisco Giants: Schedule, Box Scores and Splits". Baseball Reference. Archived from the original on 2012-06-01. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
  15. ^ "San Francisco Giants vs Atlanta Braves September 15, 1997, Box Score". Baseball Almanac. Archived from the original on 2006-06-15. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
  16. ^ Schulman, Henry (September 19, 1997). "Sweeping Giants wake". The San Francisco Chronicle.
  17. ^ Ratto, Ray (September 19, 1997). "Baseball as you always hope it will be". The San Francisco Chronicle.
  18. ^ "It Takes One to Know One". Contra Costa Times Archives. 24 August 1999. Archived from the original on 2019-07-08. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
  19. ^ Armour, Nancy (September 1, 1999). "Sox Get Closer Beck from Cubs: Boston Preps for Pennant Drive". Bangor Daily News. The Associated Press. p. C6. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
  20. ^ "Mark Guthrie Stats".
  21. ^ "Walk-Offs in the Post Season". Yankee Numbers. Archived from the original on 2011-10-05. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
  22. ^ a b Beaton, Rod (July 29, 2003). "Pitchers at different stages". USA Today. Archived from the original on 2011-10-20. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
  23. ^ Drehs, Wayne. "The place to go where no one knows your name". ESPN. Retrieved 30 September 2010.
  24. ^ Leshanski, Jonathan (November 26, 2003). "Postmortem: The San Diego Padres". At Home Plate. Archived from the original on 2011-08-23. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
  25. ^ "Pujols, A-Rod named top players by their peers". November 5, 2003. Archived from the original on 2012-11-04. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
  26. ^ "Pitcher attending to personal problem". ESPN. Archived from the original on 2012-11-06. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
  27. ^ Rod Beck Dead at 38. news services. June 24, 2007.
  28. ^ Kiefer, Michael (August 1, 2007). "Ex-wife says cocaine habit killed baseball star". The Arizona Republic. Retrieved 30 September 2010.[dead link]
  29. ^ "Report: Police found cocaine in home of Rod Beck". 31 July 2007.
  30. ^ Sullivan, Paul (July 2, 2007). "Ex-Cub week in review". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on 5 July 2007. Retrieved 30 September 2010.
  31. ^ "BBWAA Election Rules". Baseball Writers' Association of America. Retrieved 30 September 2010.
  32. ^ "Gossage voted into baseball Hall; Rice just misses". ESPN. 8 January 2008. Retrieved 30 September 2010.