Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Baseball is a little less kosher

After 7,082 at-bats, 2,003 hits, and 328 home runs, among many other accomplishments, Shawn Green has decided that his playing days are over.

Green spent his 15 year career with the Blue Jays, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, and Mets, but was unlucky in only making the playoffs twice and being knocked out by the Cardinals each time. The majority of his years were spent in Toronto but his best two seasons were 2001 and 2002 with Los Angeles. Two of his most memorable moments also took place while wearing Dodger blue.

On May 23, 2002, Shawn Green hit a double off of Glendon Rusch that scored Cesar Izturis in the first inning of a game against the Milwaukee Brewers. Green then added home runs in the 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 9th innings and single in the 8th. His final line for that day was 6-for-6 with a single, double, 4 home runs, and 7 rbi.

In 2004, Dodger fans were treated to another memorable Shawn Green moment but this time it was his decision to not even try to hit any home runs. With the Dodgers on the verge of making the playoffs, Green chose to once again honor his religion and sit out the games that fell during the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur. Sports writers and fans piled on Green and expressed disbelief that he would put his faith before his team, his life before their own interests. It was of course completely ignored that Green had always honored the holiday without receiving any slack from writers or fans. Green, unfortunately, relented and played in the first of two games that occurred during Yom Kippur.

Shawn Green holds the record for home runs hit in a single season by a Dodger with 49. He also hit into the second highest amount of double plays in a single season by a Dodger. Green was the star of the show when he was in Los Angeles, but his power disappeared after surgery to his labrum and he was traded away to the Diamondbacks in 2005.

Green’s decision to retire was spurred by his desire to stay home with his wife and two daughters. On March 20th, he will appear on a show called “Real Sports Hero” whose own Ross Porter notes what may be the most important things that Green did as a ballplayer:

In that vignette, I say that what he has done off the field may be more significant. While playing in Los Angeles, Green donated one and a half million dollars in six years to support the development of four baseball fields in the city. The money also went for the purchase of books for local elementary schools and youth community programs.

Before that, after receiving a large signing bonus from the Blue Jays, Shawn gave money to provide breakfast for Toronto youngsters who otherwise normally would go to school hungry. Green has also given his time and contributed to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Special Olympics, Parkinson’s Foundation, and the United Jewish Foundation. And, he wrote a check for 75-thousand dollars to a charity for survivors of the 9-11 attack. He’s also been a worthy winner of the Bart Giamatti Award for his involvement in the community.

And who will forget how Shawn would throw his batting gloves to a child each time he hit a home run in his home park.

Shawn Green was a class act and will be missed.

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