Thursday, May 31, 2018

The 47 Best Players from the 1998 Chicago Cubs - #43 Tony Fossas

43. Tony Fossas
Tony Fossas had a fascinating career. His time with the Cubs was less fascinating, but this is a man who pitched until he was 41-years-old. Even more fascinating is that he didn't make his major league debut until he was 31.

Think about that. This man spent a decade in the minor leagues, realizing that his time for a callup had probably already passed. He bounced around to many organizations, including the Cubs in 1985, but never made the show. But he kept showing up. Kept throwing strikes, and the Rangers gave him a goodwill callup during the 1988 season. They didn't even bother resigning him after the year, but he'd bounce around from organization to organization again, only this time, he found himself on major league rosters as a lefty specialist, a role that didn't even exist during his years in the minor leagues. That's incredible.

And a career that incredible must also have some pretty incredible highlights. I'm glad you asked, because I sure have a doozy for you.

That's not him that messes up and fields a fair ball while waiting in the bullpen, but he is the guy who shows up over his right shoulder to show his disdain for his teammate. That's a veteran move right there.

As for his run with the Cubs, I was going to say his most exciting contribution was pitching both ends of a doubleheader against the New York Mets. He pitched an inning in the early game, and then 1/3 of an inning in the second game, both without giving up an earned run. The key word there is earned, as in the second game, he came in with the bases loaded with two outs. He allowed all three inherited runners to score, turning a one-run defecit into a four-run hole. But, none of those runs were earned.

Overall, he pitched just four innings for the Cubs and gave up four runs in that time before the Cubs released him. After that, he caught on with Texas where he pitched 7 1/3 scoreless innings for the Rangers. This was enough for the Yankees to sign him as a 41-year-old in 1999. He pitched in five games for the Yankees, totaling a single inning in those appearances while giving up four runs for a 36.00 ERA.

Tony Fossas was an OG LOOGY. He literally started his career during a time where that wasn't a thing, hung around the minors for ten years and let it become a thing, and then filled that role for a ten-year major league career. Sometimes, he was great in that role, other times he was acceptable, and at the end, he was a tad bit brutal. But you look at a career like his, and you can't help but have a little hope for the future. It's not too late to live your dream, and Tony Fossas is living proof of that.

In case you missed it:
#47 - Matt Karchner
#46 - Jose Nieves

#45 - Rodney Myers

#44 - Justin Speier

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