Emotions soar as Giants bid Affeldt farewell
SAN FRANCISCO -- Laughter mixed with tears Sunday as the Giants saluted Jeremy Affeldt, the left-hander who's retiring from baseball.
In brief speeches and video tributes during a pregame ceremony, Giants manager Bruce Bochy and various players alternately praised and poked fun at Affeldt, who spent the last seven seasons of his 14-year career with San Francisco. Emotions rose as Bryan Stow, the Giants fan who was brutally beaten outside of Dodger Stadium after the 2011 season opener, introduced Affeldt. Since the assault, Affeldt has remained active in fundraising efforts on Stow's behalf.
As so often happened during his Giants career, Affeldt also contributed out of the bullpen. He entered the game in the sixth inning and coaxed popups from Jose Reyes and Carlos Gonzalez. Bochy then removed Affeldt, who received hugs from teammates and a noisy ovation from the AT&T Park crowd.
Affeldt's big day began with the pregame ceremony, which was attended by several members of his immediate family, including his wife, Larissa, and their three sons.
Catcher Buster Posey mimicked Affeldt's reaction to throwing an errant pitch. Bochy said he and Posey won't miss Affeldt's "scuds," as his short-hop throws to first base or pitches in the dirt have been labeled. No wonder, it was said, that Affeldt so frequently tossed the ball underhanded to first base after fielding comebackers.
Affeldt's self-proclaimed abilities as a hitter also were lampooned, as was his tendency to sustain injuries during scheduled off-days that put him on the disabed list.
"That's something else I won't miss," Bochy said.
The Giants also expressed sincere appreciation for Affeldt, who recorded a 0.86 postseason ERA -- the third-lowest in history among pitchers who accumulated at least 30 innings. And Affeldt reciprocated the sentiment.
Team president Larry Baer called Affeldt the most "hands-on" Giants player ever in terms of community involvement, due to his extensive activity in that realm. The Giants rewarded Affeldt with a contribution to his foundation, a youth ministry known as Generation Alive.
Affeldt thanked the visiting Colorado Rockies, with whom he spent a season and a half, for enabling him to reach his first World Series in 2007. He also saluted Bochy, general manager Bobby Evans and executive vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean, whom Affeldt jokingly called a "teddy bear" for his rare outbursts of affection.
Then came the tears.
Affeldt broke down as he singled out Matt Cain and Posey as being "friends that are closer than brothers." He recalled the pride his father expressed upon his arrival in the big leagues and poured out his love for his family.
Affeldt also thanked Giants fans everywhere and the people he has tried to reach through his community involvement.
"I may return to Spokane," Affeldt told the crowd as he began to wrap up his speech, "But I will never leave this city."