You know, when you first start seriously following baseball, especially in the minors, there’s always a couple of guys that for one reason or another you take a liking to and follow as long as they play. If you’re lucky, you may even get to know them a little bit.
I really started to follow minor league baseball in 2010. It was the first time we really started paying attention to Gulf Coast League Phillies. One of the guys that caught my attention was Brian Gump.
Brian played right field and at first, it was his name and flaming red hair that caught my attention. You can always tell the guys that are out there for the love of the game. Brian was one of those guys and that love was the main reason I loved to watch him play.
That year, the GCL Phillies won the championship and Baseball Ross and I were there. It was Ross’ birthday, Brian went 3-5 with 2 doubles and 4 RBIs. His performance really stuck out in my mind.
Fast forward two weeks, Brian was promoted to Lakewood to help them in the South Atlantic League finals. Ross and I were back from Florida and we took a few days and drove to Lakewood. We watched as Lakewood won that championship with Brian on the team.
He spent 2010 and 2011 in Clearwater.
Sadly, the Phillies left him go last year. It was a surprise to me. He went on to spend 2012 in the Independent League with San Rafael and St. Paul. This season, he went to Trois-Rivieres in Montreal so that he could pitch.
Yesterday, he announced his retirement from baseball.
I’ve always respected the way he played the game, full out and with a love of the game that was there for all to see. Before walking away, he pitched, which he said was something he always wanted to do and when things didn’t work out the way he hoped, he left the game, knowing that he had left it all out on the field, he’d done all he could and walked away with grace.
He was a part of FOUR professional championships in his career and no Phillies team at any level has won a championship since they released Brian. Coincidence?
I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know Brian a little since he left the Phillies and regret that I didn’t get to know him when he was here. He’s also quite an elegant writer. His announcement on his blog about his retirement made my eyes, err, water for a while.
If you’d like to read it, you can click HERE.
I’d like to wish Brian all the best of luck in the future, I’ll miss seeing him play.