Time marches on. No, I’m no nostalgically singing that cheesy country song, I’m talking about life. Something that we all at a certain time come to grips with. For me, it probably happened on my thirtieth birthday when my friends threw my a surprise party. I was secret mad and just wanted to drink alone. However, I put on the happy face because they did something nice for me. I don’t like milestones. I’ve never actually liked birthdays because I view them as another day closer to the end. I’m nostalgic about time and how it is so fleeting. For a lot of us it’s the first grey hair. It’s when a parent, grandparent, or childhood pet dies. It’s when you drop your kid off for their first day of school or even college.
Time is fleeting.
If you haven’t heard, and can’t read titles, Jay Bruce retired from baseball at the age of 34 years old. Joey Votto’s best buddy. The 2007 Baseball America #1 prospect in all of professional baseball. A guy that made his Major League debut at the age of 21 and played center field right next to Ken Griffey Jr., his childhood idol. Ken Griffey Jr. was my childhood idol. I’m the same age as Jay Bruce.
While Bruce’s career maybe didn’t turn out exactly like everyone expected, it was a good one, he was fun, and he damn sure was affable. In he course of his career, Jay Bruce, did these things.
- Hit .244/.314/.467
- 319 homeruns, 233 of them for the Reds
- 3-time All Star
- Won two Silver Sluggers
- Voted in the top ten of the MVP twice
- He also did this.
That swing was his ticket into the Reds HoF and into our hearts. He won’t be a MLB Hall of Famer, but he’s my Hall of Famer. When I heard the announcement this morning there were three memories, from so long ago, that immediately entered my mind.
- I remember being a 20 year old kid, working 2nd shift in a factor during summer break, listening to Jay Bruce beat the brakes off the Pittsburgh Pirates. If you forgot it, you can watch it here. I remember working my machine, ears glued to the radio, and the buzz of excitement that seemed to be everywhere. Old men huddled around radios as they worked and audibly cheering for a 21 year old kid who was promised as the savior. The 2000’s as a Reds fan really sucked but there were reasons to be hopeful. They had a lot of young talent coming up. I mean, good lord, George Grande is still the full time play-by-play guy in 2008.
- I remember watching Jay Bruce’s first major league home run. I actually missed the game and did not see it live. I watched it the next morning. Over and over and over and over. I probably watched it one hundred times. It was a walk off. It was so pretty. It was so loud. He was so fun.
- The only other vibrant memory was the NL Central clincher which, again, I did not see but have probably watched thousands of times. I linked it again because I just had to. I remember getting off work at the end of the top of the 9th. It was a second job. A crappy one and it paid minimum wage. I was going to a gas station to fill up my truck because it was on E. I had a feeling something was going to happen. In my recollection it was a muggy night but it probably wasn’t. I had Marty blaring over my radio as pump was on auto fill. I remember hearing him call Bruce into the box and with some swing he voice raised, the crowd boomed, and every one knew. My truck was a crappy ‘94 Chevy, the speakers sucked, and they were shaking it had it so loud. I ran around an empty gas station with my fists pumping in the air. I know the 2010 playoffs sucked. I barely even remember them. But, I do remember Bruce’s swing into that dark September night.
Like I said, time marches on. Jay Bruce’s career has had some highlights since he left Cincinnati, but he was on a swan song in New York and was playing 1B. Some times you just know when you’re done, and it appears Bruce knew it. As with all great things they have to come to pass. I don’t watch as much baseball as I did when Jay Bruce made his debut. I don’t get as excited about it, though, I am more excited about this year’s team. But, I’ll always keep those memories from my youth close. I just wanted to thank Jay Bruce for those memories. I hope he knows the fans of the Cincinnati Reds love him and miss him. I hope his retirement is everything he could ever hope for and that we get to see him around from time to time.