From time to time here in these pages, this being the first time, we like to pause to celebrate the lesser baseball players and their small moments of heroism that might otherwise be forgotten. Today we honor Chad Griffin Durbin, at this moment forgettably engaged in the bullpen of the Atlanta Braves. Mr. Durbin’s career has been forgettable by virtually any measure. Among active pitchers with 700+ IP, he ranks last with 1.7 WAR, or, less than half as valuable as Guillermo Mota. Mr. Durbin has spent 13 seasons in the major leagues. His Wikipedia article states that he “is not related to Dick Durbin, the senator from Illinois, former MLB pitcher J.D. Durbin or 1930’s Seattle Time’s syndicated columnist Derby Durbin.” I detect a mournful tone here. We cannot even depend upon linkage to a marginally less forgettable relative, it seems, to salvage Chad Durbin from the dungheap of memory.
But for one sweltering Kansas City afternoon in the summer of 2001, Chad Durbin was the Durbin; Chad Durbin was a hero. Facing the mighty Seattle Mariners — who had just hosted an All-Star game with four of their own players in the starting lineup, and would go on to compile the most wins in the history of the sport — Durbin hurled eight shutout innings, giving up a scant three doubles and a single, and striking out six. As it turned out, Jamie Moyer also hurled eight shutout innings, and the Royals went on to lose in 10. But for those two glorious hours, the downtrodden souls of Royals Nation held their collective breath as their unlikely champion brought a murderers’ row to its knees.
Since that day, Chad Durbin has traveled from one coast to the other, toiling in replacement-level obscurity. But nothing can erase July 18, 2001 from the annals of history. Chad Durbin, you will not be forgotten.