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Former Padres everyman Archi Cianfrocco turns 50

Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

Archi Cianfrocco was never a star - heck, he was rarely even a starter - but he is still remembered fondly nearly 20 years since he last played in the majors. Defensively versatile but offensively underwhelming, Cianfrocco very much looked the part of a scrappy utility man on paper, yet in person looked more like he should be warming up in the bullpen. Perhaps that's part of what makes his legacy so enduring: One tends not to forget someone standing 6'5" taking grounders at second base. While he didn't look so out of place at first base, where he played more games than anywhere else, Cianfrocco played every position for San Diego except for center field and pitcher. Between his willingness to help out however he could, his smile that hovered above the bills of teammates' caps, and a musical name that rolls right off the tongue, it makes sense why the mere mention of him elicits joy in those who were around to see him play.

This summer, during All-Star FanFest, I was able to shake his hand and get a card signed. I wasn't planning on shaking his hand, but he stuck it out there. He looked skeptical when I said that I was a huge fan of his; I'm not sure if that's because he doubted his impact or if it was because my youthful good looks give the impression I wasn't yet alive while he was still playing. It was probably the second one.