Javier’s last season won’t be forgotten

  • Kirby Arnold / Herald Writer
  • Saturday, August 25, 2001 9:00pm
  • Sports

His 12-year-old daughter is growing up before his eyes. The other two kids change every time he sees them. And his body sends out painful messages all too frequently that it can’t keep up this lifestyle.

Those, essentially, are the reasons Stan Javier has decided this will be his 20th and final year as a pro baseball player.

Javier, 37, says arriving at the decision to retire probably was a lot easier than getting through next summer might be.

It will be the first year of his life that Javier, a reserve outfielder for the Mariners the past two seasons, hasn’t spent most of his time around a clubhouse.

He was born on Jan. 9, 1964, and just weeks later was on the hip of his dad, former St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Julian Javier, at spring training.

“It’s been this way since I was a month old,” he said. “I never knew any other life.

“I know it’s going to be tough because I’ll have to adjust to a lifestyle that I’m not accustomed to. But at the same time I’ll get to spend a lot of time with my kids and family.”

Ballplayers generally don’t fret over making the decision to quit. It’s the following year when the true sensation of retirement hits them, former Mariner Dave Valle said

“I remember that it was odd not having a place to go at 2 o’clock in the afternoon,” said Valle, who retired in 1997 after a 13-year career. “You were busy every summer evening for so much of your life, and then it was over.

“I don’t think Stan will miss the competition part of the game, the 0-for-4s, the body aches and the pain you have to deal with. What you miss is the guys. There’s no office in the world where there are 25 guys sitting around in their underwear flipping you crap.”

What Valle is trying to say is that this is a strange but wonderful life.

“You’re together with your teammates every day for eight months,” he said. “Two hours before batting practice and an hour after the game, you’re sitting around with the guys just hanging out. It’s a very, very unique atmosphere.”

When the end came, Valle dealt with it by immersing himself into all the things he missed: playing with his kids, driving them around, coaching their teams.

“I immersed myself with being a husband and a father,” he said.

Now it’s Javier’s turn.

“I want to go home and relax in the Dominican,” he said. “I’ve got a business I’m starting with a friend of mine. I don’t want to go into details, but it’s a great business and I want to do that for a couple of years and maybe coach some at the minor-league level.

“I love working with kids. I’ve loved my time working with young players. That’s where I have more fun.”

Chances are, he’ll do it smiling.

“All my years since the minor leagues I’ve had a great time,” Javier said. “This is a tough business, but there have been more fun days than tough days.

“The guys tease me that I always have a smile on my face. It’s because I’ve always had such a great time.”

Michael Garciaparra, the 18-year-old shortstop who decided against attending the University of Tennessee and signed with the Mariners last week, said there was considerable sentiment among his family members toward selecting college.

“I think my mom liked the decision better after she saw that Tennessee was voted the No. 1 party school in the nation,” he said.

Of course, with a signing bonus that’s been reported to be about $2 million, Garciaparra can have one whale of a party on his own.

“Let’s just say his bonus was considerably larger than mine,” Mariners manager Lou Piniella said.

And how big would that have been?

“It was $25,000,” Piniella said.

It seems paltry now, but that also was a hefty amount the year Piniella got his bonus … in 1962.

One of Charles Gipson’s greatest moments as a baseball player was followed by one of his bigger disappointments.

He hit a ball into the right-center field gap last Sunday at Yankee Stadium and turned on his speed to get his first triple of the season.

“That felt so good,” Gipson said. “It was my first knock in Yankee Stadium.”

But he never left third base as the next three Mariners were retired.

“Man did that hurt,” he said. “I didn’t get to come in and slap hands with (Piniella).”

Amid continued cries that baseball games are too long, the Mariners and Tigers played back-to-back games in less than 2 1/2hours last week when, amazingly, neither pitching staff issued a walk.

“If we keep playing games like that,” Piniella said, “the league will call and tell us the games are too quick.”

A cluster of writers surrounded Mike Cameron at his locker at Safeco Field last Monday, sealing him from view of the rest of his teammates as he talked about his eight-RBI performance the previous day in New York.

He might have been out of sight, but he wasn’t out of Bret Boone’s shouting range.

“Hey, you did that yesterday. It’s over,” Boone said from the opposite end of the clubhouse.

Cameron had the perfect response: “We’re talking about you, Boonie. We’re talking about the fluke year you’re having.”

There was nothing but silence from the other end of the clubhouse, and Cameron just giggled.

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