Former Red Sox reliever Rod Beck passed away Sunday at age 38. First reported by ESPNews, the cause is unknown at the time. Beck was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 13th round in 1986. He made his debut at age 22 for the San Francisco Giants in 1991, having been traded to the Giants for minor leaguer Charlie Corbell, who never reached the majors.
Beck would spend seven years with the Giants, where he emerged as a very good closer, posting ERA’s as low as 1.76 (92 IP in 1993) and save totals as high as 48 (79.1 IP in 1993). Signing as a free agent with the Cubs after the 1997 year, he saved an astounding 51 games for the Cubs in 80.1 IP, with a 3.02 ERA. This year marked the fourth and final time he would place in MVP voting. After starting 1999 off in terrible straits (7.80 ERA, 20 SV in 44 IP) he was moved to the Red Sox for Cole Liniak and Mark Guthrie.
In 14 innings, he had a 1.93 ERA for the Red Sox. However, it didn’t help in the playoffs, as he served up a 10th inning homerun to Bernie Williams to allow the Yankees to take the first game of the 1999 ALCS series, a series they would win in five games.
The year after, Beck logged 40.2 IP of a 3.10 ERA. In 2001, he logged 80.2 IP of 3.90 ERA ball, and the Red Sox had successfully rehabilitated his career. Don’t forget, Beck was part of the Dan Duquette regime where Duquette loved reclamation projects: Steve Avery, Bret Saberhagen, and the list goes on.
Beck did not pitch in 2002 due to injury, then in 2003 had a 1.78 ERA for the Padres in 35.1 IP. His last year, in 2004, saw a 6.38 ERA in 24.0 IP. He retired with 286 saves, a 3.30 ERA, and 644 strikeouts in 768 IP. He had quite an imposing presence on the mound and had a cult following due to his mullet and fu manchu … and of course, his weight. His opinion on that?
“I sure don’t think of myself as a fat person, just someone who carries extra weight. I’ve never seen anyone on the DL with pulled fat.”
Rest in peace, Rod Beck.