The early 2000s were a rough time for Dodger fans. We only won the National League West Division title once, we had tons of young talent that we just could not capitalize on, and no star who could lead this potential-filled team to greatness.
On paper, there wasn’t much to write home about; however, there were a few glimmers of hope which kept our hearts alive, one being Rafael Furcal. Furcal was the man we wanted up in the bottom of the ninth with runners on and two outs.
He was the guy that we wanted the opposing team to hit balls to because we knew that he would find a way to make the out.
The words consistency and excitement come to mind when I think of his days with the Dodgers. He put his heart into the game with us for six years and put up great numbers. According to Baseballreference.com, over his six years in blue, Furcal had a .283 batting average, .351 on base percentage, and 711 hits, and those weren’t all singles. Out of those 711 hits, 44 were out of the park, 27 were triples, and 122 were doubles! These numbers translated into the numerous honors that he received, including the 2006 Roy Campanella Award and a reserve spot on the 2010 All-Star team.
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The man was an all around threat and even has the honor of being in a small club of players for executing an unassisted triple play! To top it off, he was extremely likable. I mean, c’mon, who doesn’t like Rambo II, right?
Unfortunately injuries plagued the later part of his career with the Dodgers, most notably his 2011 season where he suffered injuries to his thumb and left side. He didn’t quite bounce back that season for the Dodgers. That July would be the last time we would see him in blue.
After his time in Los Angeles he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals where he won a World Series in 2011 and was an All Star in 2012. Injuries returned for the aging infielder from 2012 to the end of 2013. His career was looking over until the Miami Marlins decided to pick him up for a year and later the Kansas City Royals. Finally, after spending a short month with the Royals’ minor league system, he announced his retirement in May of 2015.
Rafael Furcal is one of those special players that comes once in a blue moon. His passion was not only displayed on the diamond, but also off of it. Furcal not only helped acquire a fire truck for his hometown, but he even picks up the medical bills for the entire community!
From Steven Henson, Sports.Yahoo.com:
Now it can be revealed what helped tip Furcal back to the West Coast.
A shiny red fire truck.
It was included in the deal as a contract perk, something useful Furcal could donate to his tiny rural hometown in the Dominican Republic, where his family still lives and many people depend on his largess in time of need.
Furcal, an 11-year veteran who has earned more than $67 million, is already a one-man health-care plan for Loma de Cabrera, paying the bill of anyone needing hospitalization. He is the only player from the town of 6,000 near the border of Haiti to make it to the big leagues, although his two older brothers played in the minors and his father, Silvio, was an excellent outfielder on the island long before scouts began signing every Dominican kid with a measure of talent.
His presence is missed at Dodger Stadium, but never forgotten. Thank you for the memories, Rafael Furcal.
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