December 06, 2011
DALLAS — A lean and pasty ginger-haired man came over to where I was sitting, tugged at the name badge around my neck and introduced himself.
"Hi, I'm Robert Fick," he said. My day had been made — and that was before Fick said that he had become a player agent. He had?! And he's sober after coming to terms with being an alcoholic. Even better.
Fick hasn't played in the majors since 2007, but he certainly made a lasting impression. A skinny and fun-loving catcher/utility guy with a tendency to swear a lot, Fick hit .258/.328/.405 with 69 career homers in 10 seasons with the Detroit Tigers, Atlanta Braves and three other teams. His best seasons came from 2001-2003. He hit 19 homers with an .816 OPS for Detroit in '01. He also has the distinction of hitting the last home run at Tiger Stadium (as Stewie @GeorgeReitsma noted).
His biggest moment of infamy (and there were two or three) came for the Braves in the 2003 NLCS when, as Fick ran past first base, he slapped the arm of Cubs player Eric Karros in order to knock the ball loose. He also played a big role in the superbrawl between the Tigers and White Sox back in 2000. I saw both events in person. Oh, those were the days.
One reason for Fick's spotty career arc was, most likely, alcoholism.
"I've been sober for four years," Fick said.
"Being a parent is the most awesome responsibility you can have," Fick said.
Fick works for Paragon Sports International, the agency that represents Young — who is trying to make a comeback at age 38 after dropping about 70 pounds and getting his Type 2 diabetes under control. Being an agent is a way for Fick to stay in the game — or close to it — and to give back to Young, who Fick says is his best friend.
Fick didn't come over to sell a story; he was just being friendly. He happened to notice my Yahoo! Sports credential and realized that I work with Steve Henson — who was his youth league baseball coach in Southern California 25 years ago.
It sounds like Fick's life has come together. He says he's happy and sober. Hopefully, that doesn't change. He does still swear, by the way. That doesn't have to change.
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