Robin Yount was different kind of player

February, 15, 2011
2/15/11
2:30
PM ET
Spring training games are different. At the beginning, when men who ask their bodies to do unreasonable things for a living return from a winter of not playing baseball (excepting those who did play during the winter, but let's not worry about them), they play a few innings and then yield to someone lower on the depth chart. Before the starters leave the field to shower and get on with their day, they run laps along the outfield warning track -- while the game is being played.

Different.

[+] EnlargeRobin Yount
AP PhotoRobin Yount, shown here after collecting his 3,000th hit in 1992, finished his career with 3,142 hits.
In 1993, Robin Yount played the last of his 20 seasons. As few men do these days, he spent all of them with one team, the Milwaukee Brewers.

Yount first arrived in 1974 as an 18-year-old kid, playing alongside home run king Hank Aaron, and was now navigating his own fine career to its conclusion.

In the process, Yount helped redefine the shortstop position. His next stop would be Cooperstown, where he had earned the right to rejoin former teammate Aaron among the greats of the game.

In 1993, though, Yount was gearing up for one last run. He was asking his 37-year-old body to do unreasonable things one more time. And on a spring day in Arizona -- they all run together; who can remember details? -- he put in his work before being replaced by some young hopeful.

Like every other guy, Yount ran his laps along the warning track. He started in the left field corner, jogged to the right field corner, and then returned.

Fans knew this would be Yount's final season. They knew he would be elected to the Hall of Fame one day soon. They knew this was their last chance to say goodbye, and so they did.

A few hundred of Yount's new best friends gravitated toward the left field corner for one final look. Yount stood there in full uniform for several innings -- the still-in-progress game faded into the background for all but those playing -- until every fan waiting had gotten a few moments of his time, maybe an autograph.

Different.

The game continued and, presumably, ended. As with the day itself, details are forgotten. The lingering image is that of a man, aging like the rest of us, asking his body to do unreasonable things and thanking strangers for giving him the opportunity to do so.

It's not what one expects to see, but then, spring training games are different. Robin Yount was different. After all, he did unreasonable things for a living.

Geoff Young writes Ducksnorts, a blog about the San Diego Padres. Follow him on Twitter.

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