Cody “Crash Davis” Decker Retires After Walk-Off HR In Last At Bat.
Major and Minor league baseball for most of the "outside" world, took on a whole different meaning in the aftermath of the 1988 cult classic "Bull Durham" starring Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon. Costner's character, Crash Davis had done his time in the minor leagues as a standout power-hitting catcher with only 21 days of major league experience shining on his resume.
When faced with the heartbreaking choice of quitting the game or getting on with one final Double A ball club only 1 HR shy of the All-Time Minor League record, he chose to give it another swing. In his words, "I hit my dinger and hung it up".
Cody Decker of the Triple A Reno Aces walked to the plate Friday night with his team down 9-8 in the bottom of the ninth and parked an 0-1 pitch into the left-center field seats to win the game in true walk-off fashion. The 32 year old chose that very moment to be his last as a professional baseball player, walking off the field after 11 seasons, 14 teams, and now the active players record of 204 Minor League HR's to his credit.
"I never really knew I'd get the chance to do it," Decker told TahoeOnStage.com about retiring after hitting a game-winning homer. "It was a really special night and one of the best of my career, something I'll never forget. The fact I got to share it with these teammates, you can't beat it."
"That moment coming off the field is something I never knew would happen," "Getting all those hugs at home, then having a curtain call from the fans. It wasn't just the fans which is amazing, it was my teammates on the top step both giving me a standing ovation."
Decker was a constant reminder for fans and players everywhere on what a "professional" ball player is supposed to look like.
Chris Cron, Reno Aces Manager - "PRO"
Pat Murphy, Former Manager - "Modern Day Crash Davis. Loves the game but loves embracing the grind of the Minor Leauges with joy and humor. His next career will be bigger and better."
Eric Edelstein, President of the Reno Aces - "He's a champion from all that is Minor League Baseball; players, fans, front offices, media and everyone who surrounds the game. He's someone who does whatever is needed to help his team succeed and that will carry well beyond sports into his future.
Tim Hagerty, Voice of the El Paso Chihuahuas - "Cody Decker is loved in El Paso and the feeling is mutual. I remember leaving the ballpark multiple times an hour after a game and Cody was on the sidewalk, holding court with fans. The most personal player/fan relationship I've ever seen in Minor League Baseball."
In a sport that can create a new "stat" daily it seems, Cody Decker's major league numbers will certainly go down in history as a stat line every level of baseball purist could care less about. 8 games, 11 at bats, striking out 5 times, and never reaching base. Minuscule fact that will never define his impact on the game or those he inspired along the way.