I first saw Chase Utley with the Triple-A Scranton Red Barons in the early 2000’s, before he was called up to the majors. Although not a Phillies fan, I enjoyed watching him and fellow teammates Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Company play, and I kept track of them through their major league careers.
Chase had quite the career in Philadelphia—his first major league hit was a grand slam. He recorded the final out in Veterans Stadium, had a 35-game hitting streak, won four Silver Slugger awards, was a six-time All-Star, and led the team to World Series Championship in 2008, among other achievements.
Utley was traded to the Dodgers on August 19th, 2015 for Darnell Sweeney and John Richy. His impact was slow at first, slashing only .202/291/.363 with three home runs through the rest of the regular season. But in the NLDS, he slid into Rubén Tejada of the New York Mets, fracturing Tejada’s right fibula. Utley said he was just trying to break up the double play. The Mets and their fans thought otherwise, adding more fodder to how much they loathed him.
Perhaps he is most revered for his propensity to being hit by pitches, something he has done over 200 times in his career. When asked about it he said:
“Do I like it? I mean, I don’t dislike it.”
That seems up how Utley plays—do whatever it takes to help the team win.
The Silver Fox has become a father-like figure to many players on the Dodgers roster, taking Corey Seager under his wing, and, according to Enrique Hernandez, “adopting” Kiké, who often can be seen wearing a shirt with Utley’s face on it. But not being able to be a full time dad to his biological kids is what caused Utley to ultimately call it a career.
“The thing I’m having the hardest time with is being a part-time dad”, he said at his presser. “That’s really the reason I’m shutting it down. I’m ready to be a full-time dad.”
Among all second basemen, Utley ranks seventh in home runs with 259, thirteenth in RBI with 1,025, tenth in extra base hits with 726, and third in hit by pitches with 201, his most recent coming Thursday night. Many speculated before the press conference that if he was announcing his immediate retirement, that having been hit in his last at bat would be the most perfect way to go.
The Dodgers signed Utley to a two-year deal this spring, but he now has just months remaining in his tenure. In that time, he will continue to lead with his veteran presence and hopefully help guide the Dodgers back to the World Series. Should he fall short of attaining another ring; however, he will still have a storied career to look back on and one that he can certainly be proud of.