Keith Foulke: Heading back home to patch his bones

February 19th, 2007 → 11:58 am @ // No Comments

In a recent Dirt Dogs online poll, El Guapo and D-Lowe tied as the favorite Sox relievers of the past thirty years, beating out Paps, UUU, and, of course, the Stanley Steamer.

Oh, and also, Keith Foulke, who’s retirement last week didn’t get much attention in RSN. (As far as I can tell, the only Globe article on Foulke calling it quits was one that outlined locker-mate Josh Beckett’s reaction to the news. This in a paper that documents everytime Dice-K takes fielding practice.) After one great year and two painful years in Boston, Foulke opted for free agency instead of picking up his player option for a fourth year with the Sox; he signed earlier this year with the Indians for $5 mil and was supposed to be competing for the closer spot. Had he showed up for spring training and then hit the DL, he would have collected that not-insignificant check; instead, he decided his body couldn’t perform the way he wanted it to and hung up his spikes.

Foulke’s surly attitude in ’05 and ’06 will keep him from ever getting the acclaim he deserves, and he’ll be remembered as much for his infamous Johnny Burger King comments as he will for anything he did on the field. He’s been accused of not liking baseball, of being a mercenary, of only talking to outlets that paid him money, and of running over litters of stray kittens in his truck. He’s certainly not warm and cuddly: during the ’05 season, the most animated I saw him was when he was talking about the attractive lady fans at this or that country music concert.

But Foulke will always be one of my favorite members of the ’04 squad, and anyone who thinks he doesn’t care about baseball should go back and watch their DVD’s of the Yankees ALCS. (When Foulke signed with the Indians a couple of weeks back, I posted a Feeding the Monster (signed bookplates still available, folks!) excerpt about Foulke’s Game 6 heroics. It’s worth reading…not because I’m such a brilliant writer, but because that was such a brilliant moment in the history of Red Sox baseball.) It was Foulke, along with Papi, that truly saved the season during Games 4, 5, and 6, three games jammed into just over 48 hours in which Keith threw more than 90 pitches. (The always worth reading Art Martone has a nice appreciation of those days in Sunday’s Providence Journal.) I’m not going to go over all the game logs since ’04, but I’m willing to bet no reliever has topped that. I’m of the opinion that the punishment his body took was one of the main reasons he never regained his elite form.

Foulke could be a prick, to be sure. When he wasn’t on the mound, he didn’t do a lot to endear himself to the public or the press. But he was a helluva competitor, and, in his own weird way, a classy guy. God’s speed, Keith. Enjoy the hockey.

Post Categories: 2004 Playoffs & Keith Foulke & Oblique references to Grateful Dead lyrics

9 Comments → “Keith Foulke: Heading back home to patch his bones”

  1. redsoxtimes

    17 years ago

    Ironically enough, just this week a bunch of bloggers putting together a 100 Greatest Red Sox list voted Foulke #76 (click here for article) with similar sentiments about Foulke’s under appreciation.

    Red Sox Times


  2. rog

    17 years ago

    Any valued member of the blogging community (cough!) should probably understand the meaning of the work ‘irony’ before being able to use it in a sentence, as well as understanding the difference between ‘irony’ and ‘coincidence.’ You’re in elite company, though, because everybody on television today makes the exact same mistake (don’t get me started on how I feel when people misuse the word ‘literally.’)



    17 years ago

    Right on, Seth. Any true Sox fan has to be grateful to Foulke for the one-for-the-ages contribution he made to the championship. I guess that would leave out Mr. Shaughnessy, who talked about rejoicing in Foulke’s retirement in his column Sunday, and I don’t think he meant it in a nice way.

    Great Foulke moment was the shot of him in the Sox bullpen before the bottom of the ninth in Game 6, tossing the ball up and down like a kid on the bench in Little League. He was running on fumes at that point, but somehow managed to get the Yankees out.

    You’re right about him being classy in his way. He could have blamed the physical ills of the past two years on being overused in the ’04 postseason, but he never played that card.


  4. redsoxtimes

    17 years ago

    rog…thanks for the beat down 😉

    Coincidently would have been the proper choice of words.


  5. benschon

    17 years ago

    Can you imagine walking away from that much money? Had he just lingered around for another year on the DL he would have collected all of the $5 million Indians were crazy enough to give him. I hope someone packages this sentiment and sends it to J.D. Drew when he is too hurt to continue.

    Foulke collected at least $33 million of salary between 2001 and 2006. (I can’t find salary numbers for his first three seasons, but it probably wasn’t much, in the big picture.) I guess he is one of those extraordinarily rare individuals who has decided that he has enough money. Wow.

    Here is what he said BEFORE he signed the $20 million deal with the Red Sox.

    “I didn’t want to be greedy. I didn’t want to go out and set any records,” said Foulke, who is only the third reliever in White Sox history to have 30 saves in consecutive seasons.

    “Win or lose, going to arbitration, whatever — I don’t have to worry, my family is going to get taken care of. We’re going to have food on our table and a roof over our heads.

    “The bottom line is we got the number we really wanted to get.”


  6. okayterrific

    17 years ago

    It’s great to finally read someone that is giving Foulke some of the credit he deserved. His pitching during the playoffs of the 2004 playoffs was brilliant, and his performaces in games 4, 5 & 6 of the ALCS specifically is probably one of, if not the best, “clutch” pitching performaces in post season history.

    Granted, he never came across as the most likable person, and he certainly didn’t endear himself to sox fans with some of his comments, but as a fan I will always appreciate him for what he did out in the field that year.

    And great point about him being classy in his own way. He never once complained about being overused even though the heavy workload in the 2004 playoffs may have contributed to his physical problems the last 2 years.


  7. chris

    17 years ago

    I’ve been under the impression that Keith Foulke was injured in 05 and 06 because he overdid it in October ’04. If I’m misinformed, ignore this, but if it’s true, shouldn’t RSN be kissing his ring? I think he was heroic, but of course I don’t have to hang out with him. Keith, wherever you are, big thanks.


  8. s1c

    17 years ago

    In my opinion Foulke was the MVP of the ALCS and the World Series with Big Papi coming a close second. God speed Foulkie and may retirement bring happiness


  9. crimsonohsix

    17 years ago

    Hey Seth I have a question – Theo always seems to be talking about not mortgaging the organization’s future by trading away top prospects for over-the-hill veterans, but when I read articles on ESPN and BP ranking top prospects and farm systems, the Red Sox are always only a little above average.

    After five years of Moneyball-driven drafts, shouldn’t we be doing a bit better, or is this just an example of old school scouts undervaluing talent?

    (I’m a big Theo fan, by the way – just a bit perplexed as to why other organizations seem to always be stocked up on the top pitchers)


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