It seems pretty safe to say that Rick Ankiel will always be a favorite of many Cardinals fans, just based on the reactions to yesterday’s announcement that he’s officially retiring.
For me, 2000 was my first season as a Cardinals fan so seeing his pitching success throughout the regular season of his rookie year was so impressive. The high socks, the curveball — how could anyone not love it all?
Then, of course, came Game One of the NLDS. I’d taken the day off work and was watching on ESPN. From the great high of the Cardinals scoring six runs off Greg Maddux in the first to the oh-my-God-what-is-happening five wild pitches in the third, it was an emotional rollercoaster unlike anything else, wasn’t it? My uncle called me partway through the third inning, because we were both in disbelief over what we were watching.
Anyway, we know how things went from there and we all exulted in his return to the big leagues as an outfielder in August 2007. What a career — one of such highs and lows and resilience. So. on the occasion of his retirement, a video look at some of the highs (because, personally, the lows will always be too depressing).
Here’s a definite high: his performance in the 1999 Futures Game (with Rafael Furcal the first batter he faces).
Another: his homer in his return to the majors as an outfielder in 2007 (and Tony La Russa’s reaction still just makes me smile).
Then there was May 6, 2008, in Denver against the Rockies. Yes, the two absolutely pinpoint throws to Troy Glaus at third to nail the Rockies baserunners — but in between the two he also homered. Check it all out below (and laugh when you hear Dan McLaughlin say “Todd Wellemeyer is a huge success story with this team”):
If you’re up for a little reading on Rick’s career, Matthew Leach of MLB.com wrote “A tip of the cap to Rick Ankiel” yesterday that’s great plus he also tweeted a link to this feature he wrote last year, “Ankiel coming to peace with his baseball career.”
For a thorough retrospective, including video of his wild pitches in the 2000 NLDS but also his game-winning home run for the Braves against the Giants in the 2010 NLDS, check out “Rick Ankiel retires, closing out his fascinating career” from Jay Jaffe at Sports Illustrated.
Thanks, Rick, for all the memories — they are many, for sure, and we Cardinals fans will always remember you fondly.
Christine Coleman is the lead writer for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates and like us on Facebook if you don’t already.