Ryan Vogelsong’s Emotional Speech Likely His Last Big Moment as a Giant


Despite being eliminated from postseason contention during the final week of the year, the San Francisco Giants still had their share of emotional moments. On Thursday, Tim Hudson took the ball for the final time in his big league career before he hangs up his cleats. Also on Thursday, Jeremy Affeldt announced that he would join Hudson in the leisurely life of retirement. On Saturday, Hudson was honored with a pregame ceremony, including video tributes from Bobby Cox, Billy Beane, and Barry Zito, among many others. On Sunday, Affeldt received a ceremony of his own, where his heartfelt speech left nary a dry eye in the stands, before he made his last appearance, retiring both batters he faced.

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Another moment that pulled at our heart strings was Ryan Vogelsong‘s speech after Sunday’s season-concluding game. The 38-year-old Vogelsong is not retiring, but he recognizes that his days by the Bay are most likely numbered. After Thursday’s game, in which Vogelsong threw four masterful innings in relief with six strikeouts, he mentioned the “writing [is] on the wall” regarding his tenure in San Francisco. He was used sparingly in the season’s final month, as he made just one start and three relief appearances.

Vogelsong has gone through a long journey just to make it to this point in his career. He was drafted by the Giants in 1998 as their fifth-round pick. He appeared in 17 games between the 2000 and 2001 seasons before the Giants moved him to the Pittsburgh Pirates, along with Armando Rios, to acquire Jason Schmidt and John Vander Wal at the 2001 trade deadline.

He spent the next five and a half seasons with Pittsburgh, splitting time between the major and minor leagues, and never finding any true measure of success. In 2007, Vogelsong made his way to Japan, where he would play for three years before returning to the United States and spending the 2010 season in the Los Angeles Angels’ and Philadelphia Phillies’ organizations. In 2011, he returned to his first home in San Francisco.

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2011 marked a transformation, as the 33-year-old journeyman pitcher turned into an All-Star. In a disappointing season that saw the defending champion Giants miss the postseason, Vogelsong’s feel good story mades things a little better. That started a run of four years as a mostly solid pitcher in the backend of the rotation, including seven postseason starts. The Giants never lost when Vogelsong started in the postseason.

2015 was a more difficult year for the grizzled veteran. He signed a one-year deal to stay with the Giants, despite being a virtual lock to move on to the Houston Astros in the offseason, but could never find a niche in the Giants’ pitching staff. He was mostly good as a starter, but was bounced back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen. Now, with another contract ready to expire, and a team that’s looking to drastically upgrade their pitching staff this winter, the writing truly is on the wall for Vogelsong.

Despite the possibility of bad feelings or negativity on Vogelsong’s part, he showed none of it on Sunday when he gave an emotional speech on Sunday following the close of the season. Vogelsong took the microphone and addressed the crowd with his teammates lined behind him. He gave a roughly two-minute speech before handing the mic to Bruce Bochy and players threw balls into the stands.

Below is the entire transcript of Vogelsong’s speech, because quite honestly, snippets just won’t do it justice.

"“A couple days ago they asked me if I would say something today, and I thought about it, and I don’t even know what words can describe how great you guys are, the fans. I thought about what Hunter [Pence] said last year, and I saw it up there on the board a couple minutes ago, and saying you’re the best fans in the world doesn’t do you justice. You’re more than that. You’re part of us, you’re a part of this city, you’re a part of the heartbeat. We can’t thank you enough for everything that you guys do for us.I got drafted by the Giants in 1998, and not long after that I went to my first Giants’ game in Candlestick, and I walked by a souvenir stand and saw a t-shirt. It said ‘all men are created equal, but some of us are lucky enough to become Giants’. And when I was younger, I didn’t really understand what that meant. But after the last five years I understand what that means. It means it’s special, and it’s special because our front office picks certain guys to put on this uniform that says Giants, and there’s something so honorable about wearing this jersey I can’t even describe to you. And it’s special because of this city, and it’s special because of you, because you’re loyal, because of your energy, because you’re passionate, because you support us. Thank you so much, thank you so much.I don’t know where I’m going to be at next year, or what the front of my jersey is going to say, but I do know one thing. I will always, always be a Giant. So before we throw these balls out, let’s give it up for Jeremy Affeldt and Tim Hudson. Thank you guys. Thank you. Thank you.”"

The normally stoic Vogelsong, whose game face is the stuff of legend, showed a different side to himself as he addressed the crowd that has been behind him for five seasons. Vogelsong may not wear the Giants’ uniform again, but he was right about one thing: he will always, ALWAYS, be a Giant, and if this was his last moment in orange and black, he went out on an extremely high note.

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