Catching up with Gene Garber

I used to pretend to be Gene Garber when I played little league, figuring that if I couldn’t throw the ball very fast, the least I could do was to be deceptive. Unfortunately, my coaches were less impressed with my deception than they were with my velocity, so I continued to catch a little and play the corners and it all turned out just fine. Gene Garber’s life has turned out fine too:

Garber, who retired from baseball in 1988, is 61. He and his sons Greg, 34, and Mike, 31, own and run 400 acres of farmland.

They have 80,000 chickens and pack about 70,000 eggs a day to sell to a processor for restaurant chains. They grow corn, soybeans, wheat and barley. In recent years, they’ve added emu, selling emu oil for medical and cosmetic purposes. April is planting season for Garber, which means his days start at 4:30 a.m. and can go until 9 p.m. And Garber loves it.

“I’ve been very fortunate in my life,” he said. “I’ve had two jobs. I’ve been a ballplayer, and I’ve been a farmer, and I’ve loved both.”

And for those of you have never heard it before, the article recounts the story of Garber putting an end to Pete Rose’s 44-game hitting streak. It’s a great story. Gives you yet another reason to hate Pete Rose, and believe me, if you don’t already hate Pete Rose, you simply haven’t been paying attention.

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Comments

  1. Scott said...

    Emu oil?

    I’m almost afraid to ask how you get it. Do you press it like olive oil? Milk it? “Medical and Cosmetic purposes” sounds ominous too.

    And Craig, I would have killed for a chance to play at the corners. As a chubby kid with no depth perception, my job was to stand next to the pitching machine and pray that a come-backer didn’t hit me in the face. I think I was destined to be a fan rather than a player.

  2. GBS said...

    I despise Pete Rose.  I have a friend in Cincy who nearly spent $100 for a signed copy of Rose’s book in which he confessed to betting on baseball.  I thought I was going to have to slap him silly to prevent him from wasting his money, but he came to his senses.

  3. Jim said...

    One of Thomas Boswell’s books (can’t remember which one) tells the Pete Rose story from Rose’s point of view.  The point Boswell makes is that Rose had played proper situational baseball throughout the streak:  taking a ball when the count ran to 3-0; hitting to the right side of the infield with a runner at first; etc.; never putting the streak ahead of the team.  And finally, when the situation was actually in his favor (9th inning of a blowout when the pitcher should be pounding the strike zone to end the dang thing), Garber teased him with those chicken-feed changeups.  I ended up feeling some sympathy for Rose.

    Of course, I have so many other reasons to despise Rose that my overall opinion of him hasn’t been affected.

  4. Craig Calcaterra said...

    My view—even setting aside my distaste for Pete Rose—is that the battle of pitcher vs. hitter is the elemental core of baseball.  At all times the pitcher should be doing his best to get the hitter out.  At all times the hitter should be doing his best to get on base.  Anything beyond that, including the score of the game, etc. etc. is secondary.

    Yes, Garber admitted that he wanted to end the streak, but his way of doing it was to throw pitches he figured Rose couldn’t hit.  If Pete has a problem with the stuff he was being offered, maybe he should have sat changeup and tried to pull the damn ball.

  5. Ron said...

    Rose bunted for base hits several times, late in the game, when the game sitaution didn’t call for it, in order to get his hit and preserve the streak.

    And he admitted he was bunting for a hit to keep the streak going.

    I might not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I’ve got a memory like a steel….

    something. Can’t remember right now. Something to do with bears.

    But Rose bunted for hits to keep the streak going. I guess that would be different from what Pete said.

  6. Jim said...

    What?  Something Pete Rose said doesn’t reconcile to the facts?  Next you’re going to tell me that there’s no Santa Claus!

    But Craig, you can’t be serious.  The “elemental core of baseball” is winning the most games.  Sometimes winning the most games isn’t fully consistent with the pitcher “doing his best to get the hitter out.”  Otherwise we wouldn’t have intentional walks and Nick Swisher wouldn’t have a pitching line.

  7. Utpal said...

    Also, while we’re recalling things that make us not ENTIRELY despise Pete Rose, let’s not forget Jim Gray and the All-Star Game. Tool on tool—rock smashes scissors…

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