10 Years Ago, Aaron Rowand Ran Into a Wall in South Philly

    “I didn’t want to go to the wall for nothing.”

    That was aaron rowand, three days after he broke several bones in his face making a catch in center field at citizen bank park. still very bruised, rowand gave a press conference and was explaining his action immediately after hitting the wall while making that catch. he raised his glove in the air to show the referees that he had caught the ball.

    Reading: Aaron rowand runs into wall

    rowand was only in his 33rd game in a phillies uniform when he made the catch that broke his nose. he had been acquired in the off-season by jim thome , who had become expendable after ryan howard ‘s breakout rookie year. He had looked good so far: Rowand was hitting over .300, had already hit six home runs, and the Phillies were 18-15.

    I was in the top of the first inning in a game against the Mets, and it was raining. forecasters said it was going to rain heavier later in the evening and there was a chance the game could be cut short. (Games in Baltimore and Pittsburgh had already been rained out that day.) The Mets then loaded the bases against Gavin Floyd in the top of the first. when xavier nady drove a two-out, 3-2 pitch to center field, it looked like the phillies were going to be down 3-0 in what could very well have been a five-inning game.

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    then rowand made his catch, crashing into the center field wall immediately after. her knee dented the ‘m’ in the w.b. mason ad broke his nose and suffered fractures around his left eye. he landed on the disabled list. But he saved three runs in a game the Phillies won, 2-0, in five rain-shortened innings.

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    even the mets praised him. “You see big catches all the time, but seeing a guy sacrifice his body like that made it even better,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said. “Best play I’ve ever seen live,” Mets pitcher Steve Trachsel said.

    “I’ve seen a lot of great catches,” charlie manuel told reporters later. “To say that was the best catch, I don’t know. that would be difficult… I think it becomes the biggest catch because of the effort, the determination, the desire. the way he caught the ball, I knew it was definitely going to hit the fence. With all the things that happened, I think it could definitely be the best catch I’ve ever seen.” (this is a prototypical charlie manuel quote. that guy is great).

    rowand left the game immediately and was taken to thomas jefferson university hospital. “It’s very bad,” Manuel told reporters after the game. Rowand underwent surgery and was placed on the 15-day disabled list. he told reporters at a news conference a few days later that he would not walk away from walls in the future.

    “I play hard,” Rowand said. “This is how I used to play as a child. my coaches and my father taught me to play like this. … people can call me stupid. it doesn’t bother me it wasn’t a lie. Five years earlier, while with the White Sox, Rowand sprained his shoulder hitting the wall in an attempt to save Dan Wright‘s no-hit attempt. Wright ultimately lost the game with no hits, but Rowand hung on to the ball and made the catch.

    That kind of play, of course, immediately endeared himself to Phillies fans, or at least those who weren’t complaining about his 15-day absence and the Phillies’ 5-9 streak without him. . he would literally hit a wall to help the Phillies win. And while Rowand only spent two seasons with the team — he signed a 5-year, $60 million deal with the Giants after the 2007 season and won a World Series with them in 2010 — a move 10 years ago today cemented him firmly in the tradition of the phillies.

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    Aaron Rowand makes a catch at the wall

    rowand was asked about a famous ricky watters quote: “for who? what for?” said that after leaving a short-armed ball late in a game, the eagles were going to lose. rowand had an answer to that question: “for who? my teammates. what for? winning. that’s all it is.” a philadelphia legend was made.

    “My job is to go out there and catch the balls my way,” Rowand said as he nearly hit the wall again shortly after returning to the lineup. “I don’t put more than that. some balls were hit over my head into the walls, and I went out like always, trying to catch them. I’m glad they had enough air under them to run them over.”

    and rowand’s injury caused a permanent change at citizen bank park: the center field wall is now more padded. if odubel herrera ever hits the wall head-on, she just might not break her nose.

    Follow @dhm on twitter.

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