Saturday, February 27, 2010

Rocky Childress, Back to Bend - 354

Having just been cut from AAA Tucson in 1991, Rocky Childress began contemplating life without baseball.

The California-native's plans included returning to Bend, Ore., where he'd met his wife playing for the rookie league Bend Phillies in 1981, and becoming a plumber, according to The Arizona Daily Star.

"The only thing I'm bummed out about," Childress told The Star, "is that I had a good year last year, and I didn't get picked up. I want one last chance. If I fail, fine. But I haven't failed yet."

Childress spoke at the end of a decade-long pro-baseball career, one that began after being taken by the Phillies in the 21st round in 1980 and being sent to the rookie league Helena Phillies, then Bend in 1981 and Spartenburg in the South Atlantic League in 1982.

It was with Spartenburg that Childress figured into the start of one 11-year-old fan's autograph collection, as featured in a 1999 article on that fan.

He made AAA Portland in 1985, the May getting the big call up. He got the call in mid-flight, informed by his manager, Childress told The Reading Eagle. He landed and he was on his way to Philadelphia, he couldn't even get through to his wife.

In Philadelphia, Childress quickly made it into a game. "I tell you," Childress told The Eagle, "my heart started to beat and my knees began to knock."

Childress pitched in 16 games for the Phillies that year, two the next. His high water mark would be in 1987, with 32 games pitched with the Astros.

As noted in the blog Never Too Much Baseball, in one 1987 outing, Childress cost a Hall of Famer a chance at a win. Also, for good measure, he got another Hall of Famer to fly out, giving another a single. On Aug. 23, Childress replaced Nolan Ryan in the bottom of the sixth, after getting Ryne Sandberg to fly out, Leon Durham hit one out, tying the game. Then came Andre Dawson, who singled to left.

Childress pitched in 11 more games for Houston in 1988. As The Star noted, Childress' final appearance came Oct. 1, in relief. That day, Childress came in for Bob Forsch, pitching 4.1 innings and striking out eight.

He spent 1989 at AAA Tucson, 1990 with the Mets at Tidewater, then back to Tuscon in '91.

But he wasn't completely done. Back in Bend, Childress returned four years later for 15 more games, this time with the independent league Bend Bandits.

To The Star in 1991, Childress' wife Julie said there were two things that they always knew were going to happen. "One," she told The Daily Star, "was that we would die. The other was that, eventually, we would be out of baseball. Everyone in baseball has that fear. But it's not as bad as we thought it would be."
1990 CMC Tally
Cards Reviewed: 63/880 - 7.2%
Made the Majors: 38 - 60%
Never Made the Majors: 25 - 40%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 16
10+ Seasons in the Minors: 21

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