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Where the 15 Minutes of Fame Never End
Tonight the Home Run Derby, one of the more entertaining, and often funnier events of the baseball season, comes to us live from Angel Stadium in Anaheim. I love the Home Run Derby, but just as fun, if not funner, to me, is customarily the day of the Derby in the afternoon, when almost every year I can remember, ESPN plays reruns of derbies of any and all years past. Just seeing some of the ridiculous contestants that once enjoyed the national spotlight at the Service Merchandise, Century 21, and State Farm Home Run Derbies, is enough to warm my obscure athlete loving heart.
But today was different. Much to my chagrin, Home Run Derbies of years gone by were foregone today in favor of shows like NASCAR Now, the Scott Van Pelt Show, and Sports Nation. They’d rather put that clown Colin Cowherd on TV than hilariously obscure relics of the Steroid Era like Brady Anderson, Wally Joyner and Raul Mondesi hit bombs. That, to me, is simply inexcusable on the part of ESPN.
Oh and fuck them for talking about Brett Favre on SportsCenter.
This paragraph does not count as the single paragraph. OA’s new segment is called Single-Paragraph editorials, where, in 150 words or less, usually within the midst of a fit of rage, I talk about whatever I want in the wide, topical world of sports. I’ll probably end up saying things I shouldn’t, but we’ll just have to see what happens…
I saw Bob Sheppard once. In early 2008 I was at Logan Airport on my way to Washington, DC, and a friend of mine with whom I was traveling–a diehard Yankees fan, said to me, “Hey, it’s Bob Sheppard, the voice of Yankee Stadium!” Andthen he was gone. We never got to say Hi to Mr. Sheppard, as he seemed to disappear into the crowd. Bob Sheppard gave 56 years to the Yanks and another overlapping 50 to the Giants as the PA announcer of both teams, and his voice has long since been iconic within the annals of New York sporting lore. Sheppard died yesterday in Baldwin, New York, at the age of 99. He saw more baseball and football than I can even fathom. Sports lost an icon yesterday. I saw him once, never getting to actually meet him, but the godlike sound of the voice he brought to the announcer’s box will not soon be forgotten by sports fans everywhere–New York and otherwise.
On February 2, 2004, Stat Boy was the man sitting in the host’s chair at Around The Horn at 5 Eastern on ESPN. Tony Reali, Stat Boy’s alter-ego, had periodically filled in for host Max Kellerman on the show, and so a 13-year-old future
Obscure Athletes owner sat idle, watching the show he loved, as the next day, and again the day after, Stat Boy was back hosting. Little did I know at the time, my boy, Max Kellerman, had permanently been replaced by that weasel from PTI.
What I’m talking about here, folks, is how fucking badass Old Around the Horn was. TJ Simers back in the day, the real LA man, pre-JA Adande, and before that clown Bill Plaschke got anywhere near that show, getting kicked off the show for ripping on the show…during the show. How fucking sick is that? Back when Mariotti got points just for mentioning Michael Jordan and/or his middle name, a mute was -5 points, and before the days of Woody Paige’s ridiculous blackboard. Or the little-remembered saga over the first several months of the history of the show it took for Woody Paige to break through and win for the first time. It was gold, silver, bronze, and tin foil then. Remember that? And everyone would get face time at the end according to how many points they scored.
And of course, who can forget the immortal Charlie Pierce on that show? In the post-Michael Holley era, but before
Jackie Mac became a regular panelist, every once in a while a man would come on the show and fill in admirably for Holley. He’d have a burly beard and look like he had just slain an ox or chopped down a sizable chunk of the evergreen landscape surrounding his hometown of Worcester, MA, just in time to sit in the Boston seat on Around the Horn and fuck shit up.
And you can’t talk oldschool Around the Horn without talking about my boy, Bill Wolfe, the disembodied voice. One of the greatest voices in the history of ESPN, also left the show shortly after Kellerman’s tenure ended, and was replaced by a shitty recording of a lame announcer declaring which round it is. That spelled the end of my watching ATH every day.
I still watch Around the Horn, but not as frequently as I once did, and I know there are people out there who remember everything that show used to be, and how great it was, back during the Kellerman administration. There was a time when every day at 5
the first seven words I would hear would, without fail, be “These four things I know are true!” Now I watch just a couple times a week, but each time a part of me hopes that Reali’s tenure filling in for Max has finally ended, and Kellerman reclaims his spot at the ATH throne. That day will likely never come.
Glendon Rusch is a great example of who comes to mind when I think about pitchers who seemed to always be around, but put up stats that make you wonder how he sustained such a long career. Rusch has a 67-99 career record with a 5.04 ERA,
numbers that remained consistently obscure through his 12 seasons in the big leagues. The Seattle-born pitcher made his Major League debut for the Royals in April of 1997, and almost immediately solidified himelf as one of the most stunningly mediocre pitchers in baseball. Rusch made 27 starts in that ’97 campaign, going 6-9 with a 5.50 ERA–numbers that would land most young major league starters in the bullpen.
Rusch wasn’t done being a back-end-of-the-rotation hero in KC, though. He followed that rookie season with a dismal 6-15 record, complete with a 5.88 ERA in 24 starts. Numbers like these would have been enough to run most pitchers with numbers so forgettable out of the majors .Yet Rusch managed to stick around through those seasons in Kansas City.
The following three seasons saw Rusch land in New York to play for the Mets, before making stops with the Brewers and Cubs, where in 2004 he put up his most effective season, going 6-2 with a 3.47 ERA, mostly out of the bullpen. It would be the only season in which Glendon Rusch put up an ERA better than 4.0. Rusch played briefly for the Padres before ending up in Colorado in 2009. There he went 2-0 in 11 innings out of the bullpen but with an era of 6.75, before being designated for assignment by the Rockies. Rusch currently plays independent league baseball, and he’s yet to return to the Majors. Here’s hoping one day he does.
This Friday edition of Obscure Spotlight is a VERY special one. I’ve been saving this one for quite some time. My alltime favorite baseball player, Mr. Brian Daubach, is the subject of today’s obscure spotlight, and you’ll find out why today in just a few moments.
Brian Daubach, the Belleville Basher, was born in 1972 in Belleville, Illinois. Daubach was drafted by the Mets in 1990, and made his Major League debut eight years later with the Marlins on September 10, 1998. The Dauber had his best years in Boston from 1999-2002, where he developed a reputation as a clutch hitter and a dirt dog. Daubach played well in Boston, hitting at least 20 home runs in all four seasons of his first stint in a Red Sox uniform.
After the ’02 season, Boston brought in fellow dirt dog and obscure athlete Kevin Millar to play first base, and Daubach left Boston to play for his hometown White Sox. In 2003 he played in only 95 games in Chicago, and a year later landed back in Boston, appearing in 30 games for the future World Series champs. The following year the Dauber signed on with the Mets, ending his major league career with the team that drafted him fifteen years earlier.
Brian Daubach was never in any of our baseball video games during his career. This, of course, was because the Dauber was regarded as a scab by the MLBPA after crossing the picket line during the brief work stoppage during his time as a minor leaguer in the Mets’ system. Which is why, when I got a chance to briefly meet him on Wednesday, when he came to Worcester, MA, as the manager of the Pittsfield Colonials of the Canadian-American baseball league, I jumped at the opportunity to ask him to sign my copy of Allstar Baseball 2002. He was a good sport about it and signed the game. That very copy of the game is now being given away as part of the Obscure Athletes 2010 Summer Contest! Subscribe to Obscure Athletes now to be automatically entered to win! Contest runs until August 31st, and the winner will be announced on September 1st. Good luck, and keep reading us!
I decided today I was stealing a bit of OA colleague Andrew Nawn’s thunder to talk about an obscure athlete near and dear to my heart, a hilariously mediocre quarterback by the name of Tee Martin. Mobile, Alabama’s Tee Martin would commit to Tennessee, where he would ride the bench for two seasons waiting for some guy named Manning to graduate. Tee Martin did something Peyton Manning never could though, leading the Volunteers to a BCS Bowl victory—in so doing, becoming the answer to a trivia question or two.
Martin took the starting role in his junior year at Tennessee and in his first season, led the team to a 13-0 record, which included a Fiesta Bowl victory. Tee led the Vols to another BCS bowl his senior year before being picked in the fifth round of the draft by the Steelers. He played the 2000 season as a backup with the Steelers, and played the ‘01 season on the Eagles’ practice squad. In 2003, Martin played on the Rhein Fire of the NFL Europe, leading the team to a 7-3 record and an appearance in the World Bowl–a game the Fire lost 26-20 to the Berlin Thunder.
Martin spent the 2003 season on the Raiders’ roster, before retiring from the NFL. In that season Martin went 6-for-16 in two games, for 69 yards and an interception. He fumbled the ball three times in those two games. His NFL career stat line reads: 3 games, zero starts, 6-16, 69 yards, 1 int. He also has six career rushes for 36 yards.
In 2005, Tee Martin spent the season in the CFL, playing for the Winnepeg Blue Bombers, going 40-for-92 for 458 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions.
Tee Martin is just one in a long line of mediocre NFL quarterbacks who were servicible for successful college teams. Quite a demographic of obscure athletes, and today our honor goes to one of the most stunningly mediocre, obscure former NFL quarterbacks, Mr. Tee Martin.