Bay Bridge Finale for Tim Hudson, Barry Zito


It is unlikely that when they started their careers, Tim Hudson and Barry Zito could have imagined this scenario. The two former teammates and longtime friends are set to square off against each other on Saturday in what will most likely be their final MLB starts.

More from Oakland Athletics

Though they both broke into the league with the Oakland A’s and formed two-thirds of the three-headed pitching monster that made Oakland a force to be reckoned with in the Moneyball era, from there their career paths diverged. One went to Atlanta and despite Tommy John surgery would eventually become the winningest active Major League pitcher. The other went to San Francisco and signed what, at the time, was the most lucrative contract for any hurler in baseball history, and despite well-documented struggles would become an integral part of the Giants’ success.

Sep 14, 2015; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Hudson(17) throws to the Cincinnati Reds in the first inning of their MLB baseball game at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

However, despite the ways that their careers have differed, both have always shared an inexplicable love for the game, one that has seen Hudson return from two potentially career ending injuries and has seen Zito spend the entire season to this point at Triple-A Nashville, putting aside his past achievements and simply pitching for himself and his team.

Both are World Series Champions with the Giants, with Zito receiving a ring in 2010 despite not being on the 25-man active roster and then going on to become a critical part of the Championship in 2012, delivering huge performances in Game 5 of the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals and in Game 1 of the World Series where he out-dueled Justin Verlander for the win against the Detroit Tigers.

Hudson came to the Giants by signing a two-year contract before the start of the 2014 season and contributed both in the clubhouse and on the field throughout the entire World Series run, pitching superbly to keep the Giants in Game 2 of the NLDS against the Washington Nationals and becoming the oldest pitcher to start Game 7 of the World Series.

More from Golden Gate Sports

Though their stories transcend statistics, the numbers help to tell the tale of their success. Hudson has a career 222-132 record across his 17-year career and has only had one season when he amassed more losses than wins. He has been named to the All-Star team at least once with every team he has ever played for, and this year became the 15th pitcher in MLB history to record at least one win against every club, ironically completing the feat against the A’s in July.

Zito, though more inconsistent, has been no less impressive over his career. The winner of the American League Cy Young Award in 2002 with a staggering 23-5 record and a three-time All-Star, he also posted the lowest opponent batting average in the American League in 2002, limiting hitters to a microscopic .185 mark. Over his career he has posted a record of 165-143 with 1,883 strikeouts to date, just shy of Hudson’s 2,076 tally.

Apr 4, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Barry Zito (75) pitches during the sixth inning of an exhibition game against the San Francisco Giants at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

Between the two of them they have spent a combined 23 years playing for Bay Area teams, split between the A’s and the Giants, and they have helped change the culture of sports by the Bay forever. They have both helped to build the A’s into the franchise that they are today and have both been a part of the Giants’ unprecedented success in the postseason. “It’s cool to have a little stake in both of the teams,” Zito said when asked about their Bay Area excellence.

Though they took two very different paths, they have both ended up here, at the finale of their truly remarkable careers. No matter what the score of the game is, and no matter how well or how poorly they pitch, in the grand scheme of things, both have nothing to lose. They will close their professional baseball careers the way that they started them, together. As Zito put it, “It’s like icing [on the cake] times a hundred.” Hudson added, “I don’t think you could have written a better script.” The script will play out its final scene in Oakland this afternoon, a fitting end to a truly amazing story.

Next: Jarrett Parker Taking Advantage of Big League Opportunity