Ryan Vogelsong signed a minor league contract with the Twins in the offseason but was released before the end of spring training and hasn’t caught on anyplace else. Given that he’s 40, it was pretty safe to assume that his career was over, but today he and the Giants made it official: he’s retiring.
What’s more, he’s retiring as a Giant, as part of a ceremony at AT&T Park this Sunday. The press release from the club lauds Vogelsong as a “home grown player” and a “World Series Champion,” which he most certainly is. The release also notes his “highs and lows,” which is not something you often see in such releases, but which is true for Vogelsong, who had good years and bad years. His best two years came in 2011 and 2012, and he won a second ring with the Giants in 2014.
Vogelsong spent several years with the Pirates too, of course, moving to Pittsburgh in the Jason Schmidt trade in 2001. He signed as a free agent with both the Phillies and Angels but didn’t pitch in the bigs with either club before returning to the Giants. His last season, 2016, was spent back in Pittsburgh though he missed considerable time after he was hit in the eye by a pitch, injuring his eye socket in May. In all, he finishes his career with a record of 61-75, an ERA of 4.48 and 900 strikeouts and 448 walks in 1,190 innings. Seven of his big league seasons came with San Francisco, the other six with Pittsburgh.
It’s hard to have super strong opinions about a guy like Ryan Vogelsong, but something about this press release makes me feel good. There’s something nice about a non-star — indeed, a guy who was below average by most measures, even if he managed to stick around and make one All-Star team — getting a nice little honor and ceremony, just like a bigger name might get. We’re so conditioned to sort players into “Hall of Famer” and “pile of anonymity” after they retire, but gestures like this remind us that a guy who played had some worth and entertained us even if he wasn’t a superstar.
Enjoy your day, Ryan.