Barry Zito may not have lived up to his seven-year, $126 million contract with the San Francisco Giants in 2006, but he has been a true and classy professional every single one of those years, despite his constant struggles and frustrations.
On Monday, Zito thanked the Giants and their fans for their support, taking out a full page ad in the San Francisco Chronicle:
“These last seven years were filled with ups and downs both on the field and off,” he wrote. “I lost both my parents, found the love of my life in Amber, gained wisdom, found faith in God, and rode the wave to not one but two World Series Championships in three short years.”
Indeed, his Giants career has been filled with ups and downs.
He went from Opening Day starter in 2007 to pitching out off the bullpen for a stretch the very next season, after he started 2008 with an 0-6 record and a 7.53 ERA. 2009 and 2010 weren’t much better years for him. He started the 2010 season 5-0, but finished with 14 losses and was left off the postseason roster. After injuries shut him down for much of 2011, expectations for Zito were as low as possible going into the 2012 campaign.
And yet, somehow, Zito’s 2012 season was perhaps what Giants fans will remember him for. He surprised everyone by winning 15 games and playing a major role in the playoffs with his lights-out performances in Game 5 of the NLCS and Game 1 of the World Series, out-deuling Justin Verlander.
In Zito’s last appearance in a Giants’ uniform, the sellout crowd at AT&T Park did what no one thought they would do before 2012: give Zito a standing ovation for being a class act and, more importantly, helping the Giants secure their second championship in three seasons.