In Remembrance of Brad Halsey


May 27, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Fans stand for God Bless America during the seventh inning between the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

When I think back to 2006, I often find it hard not to smile. On a personal level I was finishing college with a degree in Creative Writing, my career of choice was beginning to manifest, and my favorite baseball team – The Oakland Athletics had returned to relevancy and finally emerged victorious in an ALDS series to boot. In short, it was a good year even if the A’s had fallen short of their ultimate goal.

As I recollect to a simpler time, I hold in great regard the contributions made by many to compose a fantastic season. There was combustible Deus ex Machina known as Milton Bradley finding control over his emotions with the assistance of the resurrected slugger Frank Thomas who provided both literal and figurative protection as the two men sought to repair their image. There was a hirsute Nick Swisher emerging as bonafide force from both sides of the plate, and the quiet, calm professionalism of Mark Kotsay and Jason Kendall serving as the heart and soul of the team. Nevertheless, I’d be remiss to discount the contributions made by a supporting cast that are easily lost to the sands of time.

Not least amongst them were the pitching performances of the recently departed Brad Halsey.

When I learned of Halsey’s unfortunate accident last week, it just didn’t seem real but it wasn’t altogether foreign either. While on the field the last 15 years of Athletics baseball have brought many highs and lows – the loss of former Oakland hurlers Cory Lidle, Joe Kennedy, and now Halsey render what happens between the lines insignificant. As if the great escape of baseball was nothing more than a temporary excursion from life’s cruel twists of fate and inevitable premature goodbyes.

For 52 appearances in 2007, the right-handed Halsey served as at the token long-reliever and spot starter in his age 25 season with the Athletics. On the surface his 4.67 ERA, 5.16 FIP and middling K/BB ratio left little reason for excitement, but his impact was still measurable. The former-Yankee answered the call when necessary eating up multiple innings out of relief and making the odd start when all the medical staff’s men couldn’t put Rich Harden back together again. Highlighting his season was a pair of scoreless 5-inning stints against the Los Angeles Dodgers and Minnesota Twins in June of 2006, and a clutch extra inning appearance against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the September stretch run.

Of course, his achievements on the mound were dwarfed by a single pitch to the eventual home run king – Barry Bonds on May 20th.

In the top of the third inning of an eventual 4-2 Giants win, Halsey reared back with an 0-1 fastball that the San Francisco slugger deposited into the right field bleachers for the 714th home run of his career, tying Babe Ruth for second on the all-time list. At the obligatory post-game press conference, Halsey took his medicine in front of a prodding crew of writers and journalists with considerable aplomb. Clad in a Napoleon Dynamite t-shirt, the Texas native answered each question with a combination of wit and amusement embodied in a smile. As if he was just happy to be there.

That’s how I choose to remember Brad Halsey.