I have a soft spot for ballplayers who remain on one team for their entire career. Especially in the post reserve clause era, when athletes often look for the biggest paycheck, if not the best fit. Loyalty is a hard thing to come by these days. How many Cardinals fans expected Albert Pujols would re-sign with St. Louis, figuring he was a “franchise player” who would never abandon the city that loved him so.
Chipper Jones, who announced that this will be his final season, is one such player. He probably could have sought more money elsewhere. And goodness knows teams are always looking to do what’s best for them, not their employees necessarily.
Beyond the Boxscore posted this piece on Jones; no doubt there will be many more over the course of the season (even Mets fans, if they have any class at all, will pay tribute to the man who was their tormentor for so long). It reminded me of a piece in the New York Times Magazine almost 15 years ago that cited a group of then-active players — called “The Loyalists” by Stephen S. Hall — in a two page “team photo”-type illustration. “To make this dream team, you need to have spent 10 years in the majors — and stuck with the team you came up with. Only 15 players made the cut.”
Ah, but Hall spoke too soon. He should have waited until they retired. Of the 15, only Ron Karkovice (White Sox), Cal Ripken Jr. (Orioles), Tom Pagnozzi (Cardinals), Edgar Martinez (Mariners), Craig Biggio (Astros) and Barry Larkin (Reds) retired on the team that gave them their big league start. The others included Tom Glavine, Chuck Finley, Ozzie Guillen, Mark Grace, John Smoltz, Mark Lemke, Jeff Blauser, and Ramon Martinez. It’s kind of interesting to note that at the time of the article Glavine, Smoltz, Lemke, and Blauser were all members of the Braves.
The Times piece can read The Loyalists as a PDF. Too bad the image is so poor; it was really nice in the original print version.