Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Fat Elvis has left the building

Happy trails to longtime Astro Lance Berkman, who announced today that he'll retire after 15 outstanding Major League seasons.  I'll leave it to someone like Sam at the Daily Dimwit to do a better job honoring one of this generation's better guys.
Lance, a.k.a. Fat Elvis, a.k.a. Big Puma, was Houston's first round pick in 1997, going 16th overall out of Rice.  He by far had the best career WAR of the first-rounders, with professional asshole J.D. Drew coming in second.  He debuted July 16, 1999 as a PH in a 2-1 win over the Tigers, and appeared in 34 games that year.  In 2000, his first full season, he finished 6th in Rookie of the Year voting after hitting .297 with 21 HR and 67 RBI, signs of good things to come.  Lance twice eclipsed the 40 HR mark and hit about .300 five times in his career, finishing with career totals of 366 and .293 over his 15 seasons.  A six-time All-Star who finished as high as 3rd in MVP voting (2002), he also hit very well overall in the playoffs, both in Houston's 2005 loss to the White Sox, and St. Louis' win over Texas in 2011 (after a brief layover in the Bronx).  He finished his career with an injury-plagued 2013 campaign as a member of those Rangers.

Berkman was well-loved in Houston during his 12 seasons there, forming one of the most prolific trios ever with fellow Astros legends Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio, a.k.a. "The Killer 'B's."  Sam got himself a sweet card that honors the group:
He's also renowned for his sense of humor, as you can see here:
2000 Just #108 - Lance Berkman - Courtesy of
and here:
I have to imagine many 'Stros fans were happy with the Big Puma when he finally won his ring, even if it was with a division rival.  You might recall that he took some flack for choosing the Cardinals over the Rangers that year, but who's laughing now, Rangers fans?  The 2011 Comeback Player of the Year hit .301 with 31 HR and 94 RBI for the world champs, chipping in a .423/.516/.577 line with a HR and five RBI in the World Series.  Though he's likely on the outside looking in when it comes to Hall of Fame voting, I'd argue he deserves a statue (along with his fellow "B"s) in Houston, and plenty of recognition for a great career.

In honor of one of the best of this generation--an awesome player, a great teammate, a class clown, and a an Astro for whom Topps would condescend to produce cards--here's the best Berkman in my PC one more time, a 2001 Studio Private Signings 5x7 auto:

Good luck with your next baseball endeavor, Fat Elvis!


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you, sir! I'd say Berkman deserved as much.

  2. Definitely a stand-up guy. We loved Lance here in Houston, and I'm sure he'll get his recognition at the ballpark. Hopefully Houston has some forethought and gets him involved with the club somehow.

    As a lifelong 'Stros fan though, I've got to point out that Lance's arrival invoked the second round of the Killer B's nickname. The first came in the mid-90s when Derek Bell landed via the trade that sadly sent Ken Caminiti to the Padres.

    1. I'd never accuse an Astros fan of not appreciating Berkman, and he clearly appreciated his fans!

      You're correct about Bell, but I left him out because he was a jackass. Just google his name and "Operation Shutdown" is the first autocomplete result!