While I did reflect on the potential end of a hall-of-fame career, I didn’t break down into lamentations nor did I think it was particularly tragic.
It’s just the way of life in sports. Only a very few call their own ending. Even then, some players, like Mike Schmidt, the chosen retirement is not because of a lack of desire but because the player, like Schmidt, realistically determined that he couldn’t perform anymore.
If Rivera hurting himself shagging flies would have resulted in a sudden ending to his career to me would be like Nolan Ryan’s last game when he walked off the mound holding his arm in pain. In fact, Rivera’s potential ending would not be as sad or sudden as hearing the snap of a bone and seeing Tom Browning’s or Dave Dravecky’s career end just like that. Adam Greenberg’s major league career lasted one errant pitch. That’s sudden.
Baseball has had it’s shares of tragedies. You know about Ray Chapman. There are others. The first real baseball superstar, Jim Creighton, died soon after smacking a mighty clout. Chick Stahl (pictured), the Boston American’s player/manager committed suicide during the spring training in 1907. Willard Hershberger slit his own throat during the Cincinnati Reds’ pennant run in 1940.
Roberto Clemente’s death was a tragedy. Roy Campanella’s accident was a tragedy. Many other players have died during their careers, seemingly young and healthy. Those are tragedies.
Marty Bergen’s career ended with an unthinkable tragedy. Teammates noticed his declining mental health in 1899 as he fought with and accused them of slights. After the season, he murdered his wife and children and committed suicide in a most gruesome scene.
To me, the most profoundly sad and tragic stories are where a player, like Nick Adenhart or Mike Miley, is snuffed out before he has a chance to really prove himself.
If Rivera’s injury was truly career-ending, it wouldn’t be the Hollywood ending many Yankees fans would want.
It just wouldn’t be particularly sad or tragic.