Wednesday, February 15, 2012

RIP Mike Darr

It has been brought to my attention that today is the 10-year anniversary of the death of former Padres Mike Darr. For most of you, including Padre fans, his name may not stick out, but I remember him quite well. He was a promising outfielder with the Padres in the early 2000's, and was killed in a car accident before he reached his full potential.

I remember Darr as a guy, while not exhibiting a lot of power, had an inside-out swing that allowed him to slap hits all over the place. Back in 2001, he started off the season 16 for 36, and even led the NL in hitting for a day or two in the early part of the season. I remember one of the greatest catches I have ever seen, when Darr scaled the outfield wall at Qualcomm Stadium to steal a homer from Eric Karros. The Padres were not very good that year, but Darr was definitely a favorite of mine.

Darr was acquired an obscure trade no one really remembers, as he was acquired from Detroit, for Jody Reed. Darr eventually developed into a top-100 prospect, and 2000, he put a nice early season line of .344/.409/.508, which ultimately gave him a promotion.

While no one questioned Darr's ability to hit, the knock on him was his lack power; he only hit 5 HR's in over 500 Major League at-bats, but the guy was solid defensively, and probably would have been a damn good fourth outfielder.

However, a promising career was cut short on February 15, 2002 when Darr was involved in a single car accident that claimed his life. The crash also killed his friend, Duane Johnson, and injured former Padres prospect Ben Howard. The Padres honored Darr with a patch for the 2002 season, to remember a career cut short.

Ten years later, and I still remember Mike Darr. On baseballreference.com, he is merely a player who got an extended look in a big league uniform. I will remember a great catch, a sweet, inside-out swing, and an outfielder covered in tattoos. Rest in Peace, Mike, you are forever a Padre, and a part of San Diego sports history.

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