I have always loved Will Venable.
That’s not just a classic Gaslamp Ball meme, but also a statement of fact. Well, okay, maybe I haven’t always loved him, but I liked having him around ever since he came up in the summer of 2008. He always seemed to hit just well enough and was good for a ridiculous catch every week or so, and that’s the type of player I tend to gravitate toward. That, and once Chris Young left, us Padres fans needed someone who played basketball at Princeton on the team, just so we could feign amazement whenever an opposing broadcaster or national reporter brought up one or both facts.
Like all good things, Venable went away. In 2015, his eighth year with the Padres, he was sent to the Rangers for two players of little or no consequence. He hit a blink-and-you’d-miss-it .182 in 37 games but did make the postseason roster, obviously a personal first considering... you know, the whole playing for the Padres thing. He spent most of 2016 in AAA for the Phillies and Dodgers organizations, eventually getting the call to Los Angeles for the final dozen games of his career.
He’s officially retired now, a point that was made clear this summer when the Cubs hired him for a front office job. I thought it was bad when I got to the age where most professional athletes are younger than me, but seeing a nine-year veteran who’s a month younger than me retiring makes me feel even more elderly.
That said, happy birthday to William Dion Venable. I hope he enjoys his thirty-fifth one as much as I enjoyed mine, although I can’t imagine his started by waking up on his boss’s kitchen floor and proceeding to pound Pabst Blue Ribbon. Then again, maybe that’s something Theo Epstein would consider a team building exercise.