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Friday, November 12th, 2010 at 11:05am

Origin of the Silver Slugger

Posted by BW

Ryan Zimmerman

Far across the galazy, a young third baseman on the planet Zim-Ra trembled before the world-consuming might of Galacticus and weighed an awful choice. He could have the cherished Gold Glove if only he would serve Galacticus as his personal herald of evil and destruction. Surely a small price to pay for universe-spanning power and glory.

“No,” said the sleek young third baseman.

Galacticus roared his rage foreshorteningly. A being who devours worlds whole is not accustomed to being turned down. “If you will not accept,” Galacticus said in a voice that echoed across the spheres, “Scott Rolen will. You see, the Gold Glove does not go only to he who defends best. When Glacticus wills it, the Gold Glove is awarded based on reputation, and batting!”

Shaken to his core, the young third baseman trembled at the dire knowledge of this injustice. “That’s not fair! I don’t believe you!” he cried.

“How else do you explain Don Mattingly?” Galacticus replied in a voice that shook moons from their orbits.

The young man from the planet Zim-Ra understood then, the fell mysteries of the universe laid bare before him.

“If you will not serve me, Rolen will have the Gold Glove in your stead,” Galacticus said, his voice like a thousand pipe organs tuned to chords deeper than a black hole swallowed by another black hole in a distant galactic core. “And you, valiant, foolish young man from Zim-Ra, you I will punish with exile to the Nationals planet as the Silver Slugger. There, you will be an alien among lesser peers, an outcast from the big markets like New York.”

Galacticus paused, a silence emptier and vaster than the void between the stars.

“And I shall curse you with such extraordinary instincts and range that you will field balls that others would not catch, and in fielding them, you will risk making errors on plays that other third basemen would never touch. And for this, you will be denied the Gold Glove many times over. Bwa-ha-ha!”

A destiny that would have crushed the soul of a billion lesser men, but one the Silver Slugger bore with stoic resolve and foreshortened forearms, at least until Jack Kirby retired and John Byrne gave him a gritty reboot. But that’s another story, for another time. Next month: A thrilling crossover puts Wolverine on the cover, even though he only appears in one panel on page 11.

© 2010 Ball-Wonk: Baseball Inside the Beltway