San Francisco Giants: Ryan Vogelsong Will Never Be Just “A Guy”

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 17: Former pitcher Ryan Vogelsong of the San Francisco Giants shakes hands with manager Bruce Bochy
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 17: Former pitcher Ryan Vogelsong of the San Francisco Giants shakes hands with manager Bruce Bochy /

Ryan Vogelsong retired with the San Francisco Giants on Sunday, and that was met with a bit of unnecessary criticism.

Sunday was something of a special day for the San Francisco Giants and their fanbase. It’s been an incredibly trying season with the team in the midst of one of the worst campaigns in franchise history, but everyone got a chance to smile before Sunday’s series finale with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

After a professional baseball career that spanned three decades  and multiple continents, Ryan Vogelsong returned to the Giants again. This time, it wasn’t a minor league contract for a guy that hadn’t appeared in a big league game in five years. Instead, it was a last hurrah to a major league career that featured more than its fair share of ups and downs, and highs and lows.

Vogelsong returned to the Giants, the team that made him a fifth-round draft pick in 1998, the team that he made his debut with in 2000, and the team he resurrected his career with in 2011, for one day so he could finally write the final chapter of a storybook career. Vogelsong and his family loved it. His former teammates and coaches loved it. The fans especially loved it.

But because this is the internet, where anything that brings someone joy will be met with ridicule, someone took the chance to mock the occasion. Deadspin writer Chris Thompson put together this magical piece of garbage, making fun of Giants’ fans for taking time out of “rooting for the worst team in baseball” to “enthusiastically remember a guy”.

More from Golden Gate Sports

“Enthusiastically remember a guy”. Vogelsong has been diminished to “a guy”. He is many things, but he is not just a guy.

Vogelsong was persistent. He went to Japan with Nippon Professional Baseball after five lackluster seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and then pitched three somewhat lackluster seasons on a different continent. When he came back to the United States, he was released twice in 2010. That didn’t stop him from returning to the Giants and becoming an All-Star in 2011 while pitching to a 2.71 ERA.

Vogelsong was a competitor. He took the ball every fifth day with his trademark scowl on his face, and he pitched his butt off every single time. Whether he was on top of his game or pitching without his best stuff, Vogelsong was always going to go out there and try to give his team a chance to win. The effort could never be second-guessed.

Vogelsong was loyal. After being traded in the famous Jason Schmidt trade in 2001, Vogelsong came back to the team in 2011. He had opportunities to pitch elsewhere, and nearly did after the 2014 season. After a deal with the Houston Astros fell through, Vogelsong came back to the Giants again. He chose San Francisco as the place to hang it up, something he had wanted to do for a long time.

Maybe above all, Vogelsong was, and still is, an inspiration. He never gave up on his dream, and kept chasing it. He threw every pitch like it would be his last, and became an All-Star, a two-time World Series champion, and a huge fan favorite among the Giants’ faithful.

Sunday was the end of it all for Vogelsong. He took the mound one final time to his signature warm-up song, “Metalingus” by Alter Bridge, while his son, Ryder, stood with him on the dirt. He rubbed up the ball as everyone in attendance stood and applauded before throwing a couple of pitches to his catcher Nick Hundley. After three throws, manager Bruce Bochy came out with the hook, taking the ball and hugging the bulldog pitcher that meant so much to a pair of World Series runs.

And as Vogelsong left the field, he shook hands with the man who would actually start Sunday’s game, Chris Stratton. Vogelsong is the ultimate late-bloomer, and Stratton has finally made strides as a major league pitcher at age 27. Maybe Stratton can follow in Vogelsong’s footsteps as a pitcher that comes on late but becomes a key piece in the Giants’ rotation.

This wasn’t a ceremony that would be given to “just a guy”. The fans weren’t on their feet for just any old so-and-so. They were cheering as loud as they could for someone who meant so much to the franchise in the team’s highest years. To try and diminish Vogelsong’s accomplishments is a slap in the face to a pitcher who gave it his all every single time no matter the mound he was taking, and an insult to the fans who were with him every step of the way.

This is more attention that ridiculous piece of writing deserves, but Vogelsong’s legacy with the Giants will never be diminished to him being just “a guy”. Vogelsong’s fight, first to make it back to the big leagues and then to stay there, won’t be forgotten by this fanbase.

Next: Awful Season not AT&T Park's Fault

Thank you, Ryan Vogelsong, for all your contributions. They will always be remembered.