By Paul Hagen / MLB.com
In 2010, Billy Wagner saved 37 games for the Braves. His ERA was 1.43. Wagner was with a playoff team, the team he rooted for growing up in southwest Virginia. And he walked away at the end of the season.
Wagner had announced it was going to be his last season. He stuck to the decision, perplexing many. He resisted overtures to change his mind. Wagner retired at the age of 38 even though he had another guaranteed year on his contract that would have paid him $6.5 million. Even though he was fifth on the all-time saves list with 422, just two behind John Franco for the most by a left-handed reliever.
No, Billy Wagner was never just another ballplayer. And not just because he had a rare tendency to say what was on his mind. Although that’s a quality that came in handy when composing “A Way Out: Faith, Hope & the Love of the Game” with the able assistance of Atlanta journalist Patty Rasmussen.