They said it couldn't happen. They were wrong.
Cody Joseph Ross was born on December 23, 1980, in New Mexico. He was a baseball star for Carlsbad High School, and he was drafted in the fourth round of the 1999 amateur draft, 13 picks above Chuck Crowder.
Ross started his career slowly, hitting just .218 in rookie ball. He quickly showed the hitting qualities he’d be known for, though, using his power and speed to make up for his lower averages and mediocre walk rates. When he was 22, he reached triple-A, where he had an .848 OPS for Toledo.
And then, a stunner: Ross was traded to the Dodgers for Steve Colyer, a reliever who would appear in 41 games for the Tigers with a 6.47 ERA. The Dodgers had pulled off a heist, it had seemed, as Ross continued to mash in triple-A, this time in Las Vegas. What Ross didn’t know was that the Dodgers had their eye on Ben Kozlowski, a 24-year-old pitcher in the Reds’ system. The two teams swapped players, and Ross’s world was upended again.
About a month later, the Marlins bought Ross from the Reds. There was no trade -- just money. Because it’s the Marlins we’re talking about, we can assume they paid with a sack of buffalo nickels that Jeffrey Loria set aside every time he personally emptied the vending machine behind section 131.
Ross played, and he played well. For two seasons, he was a two- to three-win player making the minimum salary. When he started to make money through the arbitration process, the Marlins put him on waivers. The Giants, looking to block Ross from going to the Padres, claimed him. The Marlins just let him go. Later, in October and November, Ross started for the Giants in several playoff games.
That all set up June 4th, 2011.
It was a cold, wet day. The San Francisco Giants were playing the Colorado Rockies at AT&T Park. It was Cody Ross Bobblehead day. Tens of thousands of fans had a plastic likeness of Ross in their hands. When he stepped to the plate in the first inning, there were two runners on and two outs. Ross popped up. The crowd was deflated.
In the bottom of the third, Ross came up with a runner on second and two outs. He popped up. The crowd, still clutching their Ross bobbleheads as if to somehow project their wishes through the statuette onto the field, grew restless.
In the sixth, though, Ross came through. He took a 92-MPH fastball for a ball, and on the second pitch of the at-bat, he pulled another fastball to left field. Though he ran hard out of the batter’s box, the ball cleared the fence with plenty to spare. It was a home run. Cody Ross had given the Giants a run. On his own bobblehead day.
There are those who claim that as he rounded the bases, a light exploded above the stadium, sending sparks down onto the field. Others claim that it was an errant firework, a Roman candle that went off at a fortuitous time. Others believe that the video merely showed a seagull with an upset stomach. But if you believe in poetry -- in the magic of this game -- you can believe whatever you want. I’d like to think that the soft rain that fell came from the baseball gods, watching from above, crying tears of joy and muttering we did it. We did it.
There is no telling what Ross will do for an encore. He’ll have several more chances to top today. But that seems unlikely. On June 4th, 2011, his at-bat led to a run for the San Francisco Giants. At the end of the game, the Giants could look up and see that "1" staring back at them, and they knew they weren’t shut out. This was all because of Cody Ross.
The story of the Giants’ run is a long one. It stretches back to 1980, when a baby boy came into this world. No one knew then, but that child would score a run for the 2011 San Francisco Giants. That’s the beauty of this sport. You can’t make this stuff up. The Giants scored a run today against all odds. Now you know how.