Remembering Rod “Shooter” Beck

Christmas parties always brought out the best in Rod Beck. They epitomized him, really. There were games, karaoke, plenty of booze and a mix of people who came because they loved the guy everyone called “Shooter.” Here he was, an All-Star closer making millions of dollars. And when they asked what to bring, his guests were told to bring a toy. Beck and his wife, Stacey, wanted to make sure Toys for Tots had plenty of gifts for the children.

 It sounded like a Hallmark card, but it was true. Beck was nothing if not genuine. He was a normal guy who usually called everyone “dude,” who instead of asking a clubhouse attendant to pick up his used, dirty towels, would ask him to go share a smoke.

“His image was not something he was,” says Tim Wakefield, Beck’s teammate from 1999-2001 in Boston. “He had a huge heart, and was so humble. He was so full of life.”

 Rodney Roy Beck, a name that even sounds like a cocktail, was usually with a Coors Light and a KOOL cigarette, and “he wasn’t no pop hitter,” said Dusty Baker. “That’s what they’d call you back in the day, pop hitter.”

Baker knows. He ‘d never had a sip of alcohol before arriving in the minor leagues in 1967, when his first manager saw him drinking soda and told him he wasn’t carrying no pop hitters on his roster. Beer or water only, Dusty quickly learned. 

 “Back in the old days he would’ve really been accepted,” Baker says, “because [beer drinking] was the norm.”

 When he arrived in San Francisco as a rookie in 1991, with Baker as the hitting coach, Beck needed no introduction to the old school. He was it.

Beck was 34 and a year removed from Tommy John surgery when he drove from Phoenix to Des Moines by himself and parked his RV camper next to his workplace, behind the right-field fence. And when the light was on, that meant anyone could stop by for a beer. When the light was off, the Iowa closer was sleeping in preparation for the next day’s game.

By Amy K. Nelson |

Rod Beck was ahead of his time. He defined what it meant to be a true GAMER on and off the field. The guy loved drinking Coors Lights, lived in a trailer parked outside his minor league stadium in Phoenix, smoked Kool cigarettes, and did coke off of his own baseball cards. What was that last one? He did coke off of his own baseball cards? Yes, the police found cocaine and a rolled up bill on top of his Giants baseball card at the crime scene of his death. Name one player nowadays who is that cool. NOBODY will ever be as cool as Beck. Absolutely nobody. 

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“He had that Fu Manchu, that menacing glare, the stare, the dangling right arm,” says Barney Nugent, the Giants’ former assistant athletic trainer, who first met Beck in 1991. “That mullet blowing in the Candlestick breeze all the time. … It was, ‘Me against you, and I’ll tell you, I’m going to win. There’s no way that I’m gonna lose.’ That was Shooter, and everybody could respond to it.”

When it came to pitching the fuck outta the baseball and striking fear into every batter you faced, you were the man, Rod. You were IT. Nobody wanted to face you. You were a REAL AMERICAN.

(And we know you would never through the flag down like Kenny P.)

As we prepare for the 2014 baseball season, it is vital to remember gamers like Beck. While he may have liked to party a lot, the guy was a class act and a great teammate. Everybody loved him. Nowadays, baseball players walk around like they are the cream of the crop. I understand that these guys are making millions of dollars, and the ego is built from a fat paycheck, but it would be nice to see some ordinary guys. Rod was just THAT. Fans were able to relate to him and they loved him. 

Unfortunately, Beck fought his own demons and his disease of addiction took his life at the young age of 37 on June 23, 2007. He was buried in his Cubs uniform, but Giants fans will never forget his glory days from 1991-1997.

As a 22 year old rookie in 1991, Beck finished with a 3.78 ERA, pitched 52 1/3 innings in 31 games and struck out 38 while walking only 13. In 1992, he became the regular closer taking over for the current Giants’ pitching coach, Dave Righetti, finishing with 12 saves and a 1.76 ERA. The following year, Beck recorded 48 saves (yes 48 fuckin saves), and 24 of them were consecutive. Beck was a beast, setting 2 Giants franchise records for most consecutive saves and most saves in a season. In his final year with the Giants, at age 28, Beck pitched 70 innings and finished with 38 saves, both of which were the most recorded since his 1993 season.

When the Giants were 1 game back of the Dodgers in 1997, Beck proved his veins were full of ice. In their matchup on September 18 at the Stick, Beck came into the game at the top of the 10th with a score of 5-5. He gave up 3 consecutive hits, and loaded the bases with no outs. Dusty Baker then makes a visit to the mound, talks to Beck, and decides to keep him in. Any normal baseball fan watching that game thought Beck was gonna get pulled, but Dusty stuck with his gut and kept him in. Shooter strikes out Todd Zeile looking for out #1. He then got pinch-hitter, Eddie Murray, to hit into a double-play. The sold-out crowd at Candlestick went crazy, and so did Beck after his clutch performance (1.12). In the 12th, Brian Johnson hit a walk-off home run  and the Giants would go on to win the NL West. EAT SHIT LA. As a Giant, Beck finished with 199 saves and a 2.97 ERA over 7 years. He joined the Cubs in 1998 where he recorded the most saves of his career, 51.


Beck you are gone but never will be forgotten. RIP, Go Giants.

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Can in left pocket…GAMER.

By: Dago Joe


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