If Marquis Grissom deserved a flowery eulogy, what does Snow deserve? I have no idea. Much more than the literary gold watch he's about to be saddled with. After nine seasons on the Giants, Snow will certainly be remembered fondly. He broke through the foggy malaise of the Desi Wilson/J.R. Phillips/Todd Benzinger era, and helped the Giants dispatch the Dodgers in the magical '97 season. Even if he didn't play another game for the Giants, he'd have to be respected for that.
Snow's tenure with the Giants was wildly erratic. Snow's awful. Hooray Snow! Ah, he's back to terrible. I love this guy! Without getting too offensive, it wouldn't be out of place to compare to an abusive husband who has a tendency to show up with flowers at just the right time. And there would be no sense even using a spousal analogy if he weren't so danged cute. I feel comfortable enough in my masculinity to write as much.
But Snow is the type that will leave you confused. About what you think of his baseball skills, I mean! About what you think of his baseball skills. Jeez. His roller coaster Giant career had ups that were more memorable than the downs, and Lefty's collecting some of your favorite Snow moments. I was at the game when he took Armando Benitez deep - the only thing I've experienced in person that came close to that kind of hysteria was the "OWENS! OWENS! OWENS!" game against the Packers - but I always felt the homer lost a lot of its mythic status when the Giants lost the game.
It might be because it's fresh in my mind, but Snow diving face first into a camera just a couple of months age is my favorite on-field moment for Snow. It was a crucial part of a game, in a crucial part of a season, and it was something that doesn't need an ancillary explanation. There's no, "He left everything on the field that night", or, "He showed what he was made of." No, the dude dove face first into a camera to catch a ball. Awesome.
That's not the one memory I'd pick, though. I've never followed a sports season quite like the Giants year in '97. It was the start of the obsession. Going to school up in Oregon, there were plenty of days when KNBR didn't come in. This was also a time before ESPNews, and before it was common for a college student's budget to allow for home internet access. So, if the Giants were playing, I was glued...to the lame ticker offered up by CNN Headline News. If it took a while to change the ticker during a particular inning, I assumed a lot of runs were being scored. I got pretty good at decoding the morsels of information. This is my "five miles in the snow, uphill, both ways" story for all you whippersnappers in college right now, in case you hadn't guessed.
After having my soul sucked out of me watching the first two playoff games against the Marlins, I rode a Greyhound twelve hours to sit in some miserable seats for Game Three. It didn't work out. I was crushed when the Giants lost, but that wasn't a really good team. After losing two on the road, there weren't many illusions about a comeback. I had made my peace before the final out.
The next day, there was a picture of Snow on the front page of the San Jose Mercury News. Snow was crouched down, and his head was in his hands. He was almost certainly crying. The look on his face was devastating. I don't remember what the headline read, because it was useless. And that's the one memory of Snow I'll take, if forced to take just one. I might have made my peace, but Snow still believed that team wasn't going to stop, and he took it hard. It would have taken him winning a Series with the Dodgers to ever associate him with another team after that picture.
Before we get too mushy, it was time for him to go. His bizarre surge in 2004 was a mirage; he really isn't a starting first baseman anymore. But when a player is with your favorite team for almost a decade, like Snow or Kirk Rueter, focusing on any of the negatives is a pretty sorry thing for a fan to do. Nine seasons. Man, that's a long time in this era to be with one team. Good luck, J.T., and thanks.