John Rocker, circa 1999

I was digging through our crack den basement office two nights ago when I found these two photographs sitting loosely in an old album. Thought they were interesting enough to post.

The year was 1999. I was 27-years-old and new to the world of Sports Illustrated baseball writing. My editor, a nice man named Dick Friedman, asked me to follow around a young, crazy Atlanta reliever named John Rocker during the NLCS between the Mets and Braves. I wound up writing a very kind, touching profile on how Rocker was actually a wonderful young man who was simply a wee-bit misunderstood. In fact, the final scene of the piece was Rocker, age 8, carrying his dead dog into the house, tears trickling down his cheeks.

Alas, when the Braves were swept by the Yankees in the World Series, that version never ran.

So Dick sent me down to Atlanta to update the profile. And the rest, to pursue cliche, is history.

The above photos are of Rocker at Shea during the NLCS. I’m the moron in the funky hat.

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