Thursday, May 22, 2008

Eric Show Revisited

With San Diego Padres baseball arguably as bad and uninteresting as it has ever been, the value of nostalgia rises by the day. In this vein, I found a great article posted by the Union Tribune on ex Padres and A's hurler Eric Show, entitled "He was the Padres' Mystery Man."

Show still holds the all-time record for career wins as a Padre with 100, and most baseball fans remember him for taking a seat on the mound after giving up Pete Rose's 4,192nd hit, the one that broke Ty Cobb's previous mark for career hits.

But innumerable fans and friends remember Eric for who he was off the field. A curious and often tormented personality, he defied most stereotypes of professional athletes in the 80's. The man learned to play guitar at age 5, graduated from UC Riverside with a degree in physics, participated in campaigns against Communism, was an activist in preserving whale populations, and often invited the homeless and strangers to eat with he and the team after games.

Certainly the point is not to re-hash the entire article here, but I think it does provide some insight into the changing landscape of professional sports. In today's climate of corporate sponsors, homogenized and sterile ballparks and players that learn the game largely through camps and professional instruction, guys like Eric Show have become increasingly rare. Locally, it provides some insight into Padres fans frustrations. While Eric played on some bad teams, they were a group with personality. An owner in Ray Kroc with a heart, and a manager in Dick Williams with passion and fire.

Hopefully everyone enjoys this article, as it provides an intriguing glimpse into the mind of a man that was compassionate, brilliant, and ultimately self-destructive. During the 1990's Show began to abuse cocaine and other drugs heavily, and passed away at the age of 37 in a rehab facility in Dulzura, out in east county San Diego.

Here is a clip of the obituary:

And one of his songs entitled "The Padres Win Again" (others are being transferred from vinyl and will be available on iTunes):

And of course, an Inspirational Quote...

“We have a choice – to think or not to think – and I've come to the conclusion that most of these guys don't want to think about anything but baseball, and I'm kind of ostracized for that.”

-Eric Show

1 comment:

CarolynM said...

I am compelled to post here because I was an acquaintance of Eric Show's from 1985-1989. I've been a baseball fan for over 26 years and meeting and knowing Eric's social facets are two of my fondest, but bittersweet memories.

I wrote a letter to him in early 1985 telling him how interesting he was, especially his passion for music and his science studies. Even though I was and still am a Phillies' fan, he piqued my curiosity. I did not think I would actually meet him, much less receive a very personable hand-written response. I thought I'd just receive an autograph (and I would have been just as happy!)! My conversations w/ him ran the gamut from politics, science, music, and poular culture. Sure, I was curious about him as a player (who isn't curious about their favorite baseball players?), but the more we chatted at the ballpark every year the Padres would be in town or by letter (once or twice a year), I learned that he really wanted people to take him seriously not just as a ballplayer, but as a committed, passionate musician. He had this zest for life back then that was unforgettable! He also made sure that, even though you were perhaps a mere satellite in his world, your opinion(s) meant a lot to him.

Throughout those years, I learned that he had many friends and acquaintances on the road like me. He was insecure about his role as a star baseball player, but wanted to show the world he was "man enough" to succeed. He wished to surround himself with people who truly understood him as a person and filled his need for companionship. Even though fans adored him, at least early in his career, he felt he was never good enough. This is very sad because he had the ambition to improve himself as athlete to the nth degree, the personality to light up a room, the brains to win at any argument (whether about poltics, music or science), the looks to turn heads, and the warmth to befriend anyone he wished. People of high intelligence like him tend to be emotional and *very* empathic towards others to the point where he/she must cater to everyone. Eric felt he had to "save" or make amends to everyone even though his personal life was not always stable. I was always concerned that fame might not deal him a good hand, especially that he was still impressionable and could be very thin-skinned.

I was no starry-eyed, naive fan, either, I knew that fame and living on the road could be filled with temptations. I figured, he's an adult, he had to make up his own mind about his decisions, whatever they were. I did not feel it was my place to judge him, considering he was twelve years older than me.

I did not hear from him after 1989; I just thought since I was busy with college and he was doing his baseball thing and I thought we'd meet up again later in the future. When I heard of his death in 1994, I was upset and saddened but not shocked. I wondered why he shut his friends out when he really needed them? Only he knew the whole story, but perhaps he did not want to let us down and be disappointed in him.

Today would have been his 53rd birthday. Every May 19th that's passed since his passing, I save a part of the day to remember him how I remembered him--a gentle, amicable, intelligent soul with a gift for being the devil's advocate in many of our debates. And even though I may not have known him intimately, I am pleased as punch that I got some glimpses of what Eric Show the human being was really like.