It's been eighteen years since Bobby Thigpen of the Chicago White Sox established a new record for closers with an astonishing 57 saves in a single season. Topps, when their Record Breakers subsets were among the first cards numerically within the set, included a tribute card for Thigpen in its 1991 set (1990 Record Breakers). Please read the headline below...
"Which May Last for Ages" huh. I don't know what the definition of "ages" is. Is it a span of 5 years, 10 years, 62 years? I'm going on a hunch and say that Topps probably believed that this record would stand as long as DiMaggio's hitting streak (which is truly a record that will never be broken). But in this day and age, where the reliance of MLB teams on their bull pens is more prevalent today than it was even twenty years ago, this record was bound to be broken sooner than later.
To be honest, 57 saves is nothing to sneeze about. It means that Bobby was given the ball and trusted to secure any leads and end the game. And he did it rather well too.
Well on September 13, 2008, Angels pitcher Francisco Rodriguez broke that record, sealing a 5-2 win over the Seattle Mariners.
So congratulations K-Rod. It is a well deserved feat, and if anything, should solidify your position as one of the most dominant closers this decade has seen. But before we all herald in the new saves champion, it would be nice if we remembered the man who set the bar so high in the first place.
Here's to you Bobby. Wherever you are.