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Rodney Roy Beck (August 3 1968June 23 2007[1]) nicknamed "Shooter", was an American relief pitcher in Major League Baseball who played for the San Francisco Giants (1991-1997), Chicago Cubs (1998-1999), Boston Red Sox (1999-2001) and San Diego Padres (2003-2004). He batted and threw right handed.


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. In 1989, while with the San Jose Giants of the California League[2], he posted a record of 11-2 between opening day and June 13th when he was promoted to the Shreveport Captains of the Double A Texas League. Beck made his Major League debut on May 6, 1991, versus the Montreal Expos. His performance was forgettable, (2.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER), but his season numbers were more impressive. He had a 3.78 ERA; pitched 52⅓ innings in 31 games; struck out 38 & walked 13. 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. Beck's best season was in 1993[3], when he recorded 48 saves, including a then-record 24 straight for the Giants.

September 18th, 1997[]

On Sept 17th & 18th, 1997, the Los Angeles Dodgers came to San Francisco to play a two-game series at Candlestick Park. 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.[1] The Giants won the first game 2-1 behind lefty Kirk Reuter. In that contest, Barry Bonds hit a two run homer in the 1st inning for the Giants while Raul Mondesi hit a solo shot in the 5th for the Dodgers. Beck didn't pitch in the game.

On September 18th, he came into the game in the top of the 10th with the score tied 5-5. As the season had progressed, Beck had lost his closer's job to Roberto Hernandez. In fact, Beck had blown a save three days earlier in Atlanta [2] while trying to close that game. He'd given up 4 earned runs in just 2/3 of an inning. Beck got into trouble immediately by giving up consecutive singles to Mike Piazza, Eric Karros & Raul Mondesi.[3] With the bases loaded, nobody out and the crowd booing loudly, manager Dusty Baker came out to talk to Beck as he was obviously struggling.

"Shit", Baker said to pitching coach Dick Pole. "I'm gonna go out and say something."
"You can tell when he wants you", said Beck, "because his eyes are sort of down. He looked at me all the way to the mound, so I knew he was leaving me in."
"I just said, 'Dig as deep as you can with whatever you've learned as a pitcher.' " Baker told Beck. " 'You're the guy.' "[4]

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 [5] 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.[6] The Giants, now tied with the Dodgers for the division lead, would go on to win the Western Division crown.

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. Beck set a career high in saves in his first season with the Cubs, converting 51 of 58 chances. 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, who turned out to be Cole Liniak.[4]

Boston Red Sox[]

Beck pitched well for the surging Red Sox, although he struggled in the postseason (giving up a Bernie Williams walkoff home run in Game One of the 1999 ALCS) and wasn't as good as he had been in the past in his two full seasons with the team. After the 2001 season, Beck had Tommy John surgery.

Back to the Minors[]

Beck successfully recovered from Tommy John surgery and floated around in the minors before being signed by the Cubs. While pitching for the team's AAA affiliate Iowa Cubs during his comeback, Beck gained national attention for living in a mobile home behind the team's Sec Taylor Stadium (now Principal Park) in Des Moines. Beck warmly welcomed fans to drop by and visit, use his restroom, and drink ice cold Coors Light from his refrigerator.[5] He was later traded to the San Diego Padres.

San Diego Padres[]

In 2003, Beck returned to the Major Leagues with the Padres, filling in for the injured Trevor Hoffman. He converted 20 saves in 20 chances, while posting a 1.78 ERA. His statistics earned him the National League Comeback Player of the year award. In 2004, Beck dealt with personal problems during Spring Training and struggled in a seventh inning role for the Padres. Beck was released by San Diego in August.

Life after baseball[]

Beck dabbled in acting and took a role in the movie Work Week as the character Reggie.


On June 23, 2007, Beck died alone at his home in Phoenix, Arizona.[1][6] While the cause of death has not been disclosed, Phoenix police do not suspect foul play[1]; cocaine was found in his home and bedroom.[7] Reliable reports indicated that Beck's death occurred as a result of drug abuse. Beck was buried in his Chicago Cubs uniform.[8] Beck's name was added to the 2008 ballot for the Baseball Hall of Fame, waiving the normal five-year period before eligibility, however he only received two votes.[9]

See also[]


External links[]

Preceded by:
Randy Myers
National League Rolaids Relief Man of the Year
Succeeded by:
Tom Henke