Dan Giese very nearly gave up on baseball, but baseball never quite gave up on him.
Back in 2005, Giese was in his seventh year in the minor leagues when his pregnant wife was in a car accident on the other side of the country. Steady Triple-A production seemed to be getting him nowhere, and so in the middle of a road trip, Giese quit to be with his wife and growing family. He literally sold cars at a Honda dealership.
Two years later, Giese made his major league debut with the Giants. In 2008, he was a surprisingly effective member of a patchwork Yankees pitching staff that leaned on Giese for 17 relief appearances and three spot starts, including an absolute gem in Anaheim.
Out of the game, then back in it, Giese is now 33 years old and retiring for good. He came back from Tommy John surgery this season only to tear his labrum while pitching for Triple-A Sacramento. He was pitching well, but the pain was too much, and Giese didn’t want to undergo another surgery.
“All I wanted to do was face one guy in the big leagues,” he said. “And I was able to do a lot more than I ever thought.”
Giese finished with a 4.22 ERA in 35 major league games. He had his best season with the Yankees, pitching to a 3.53 ERA after a call-up from Triple-A, where he was pitching out of the rotation for the first time in his career. Giese made his Major League debut as a September call-up with San Francisco in 2007 — he got an out on his first big league pitch — and he made seven appearances for Oakland in 2009 before the elbow surgery. His career minor league ERA was 2.86.
Giese will be a footnote, if that, in Yankees history. He was in and out of pinstripes quickly and unexpectedly, but he gave that 2008 team a boost when it was searching high and low for pitching. He proved himself at the Major League level, and that’s all he ever wanted in the game.
Up next, Giese said, will be a life of teaching and coaching. Probably a lot of fishing, too. And time spent with his family in California.
The numbers suggest Giese deserved more Major League chances than he got, but he got more than he ever asked for. And he always appreciated that.
The game never gives up on a guy like that.