Thursday, September 26, 2013

This just Crossed my mind

With all the attention being given to flamboyant, bloviating freshman senator and native Canadian Ted Cruz, quite naturally my attention turned to a far more important American: Todd Cruz.

Todd Cruz lives on in the memory of Orioles fans for his contributions to the 1983 World Championship season.  He was acquired on June 30 of that golden season to replace Leo Hernandez at third base.  He blended very well with shortstop Cal Ripken, Jr, to form a formidable left side of the infield. Even though Todd was nowhere near the hitter that Cal was, he was well-liked in the clubhouse, and he, along with catcher Rick Dempsey and second baseman Rich Dauer, formed a triumvirate of jokesters known as the Three Stooges.  As we all remember, the team won the World's Serious against the Phillies that fall and has not done so since.  (But wait till next year!)

A great example of the scouting shorthand "good field no hit," Todd batted .208 in '83 and only .218 in '84, and when the O's had the chance to have Wayne Gross play third and bat a whopping .235 in 1985, they jumped on it, consigning Cruz to Rochester of the minor leagues.  That season in upstate New York left many with the indelible memory of his manager looking for Todd to pinch hit during a game, only to find that he was under the grandstand, in uniform, in a hot dog line. True.

Cruz's 1983 jersey.  These
sacred relics matter to us!
In 2008, the Orioles had a reunion of the 1983 champs, and Todd came to town as an enthusiastic participant. "Being with these guys here is like being a little kid ... getting ready for Christmas," he told an interviewer at the time. "I love them all, and I'll be an Oriole for the rest of my life."

The rest of his life was only to extend for six more weeks. Todd Cruz died in September of 2008, drowning in the swimming pool of the apartment complex where he was living in Bullhead City, AZ.

Sometimes, we hit on one brief and shining moment, and it's the lucky person who can look back on it with joy and no regret.  “In the eternal scheme of things, shining moments are as brief as the twinkling of an eye, yet such twinklings are what eternity is made of...” said Mr Rogers on TV.

And he didn't have to talk all night to make that point.

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