A pitcher checks the rearview mirror

Updated: February 11, 2010, 3:14 PM ET
By Buster Olney
Doug Brocail is not going to be elected into the Hall of Fame. He didn't set any records. He didn't make an All-Star team. He never pitched in the postseason. He played on some good teams, and some really bad teams.

But I don't think anybody had more fun than he did playing baseball, before he made the decision to retire a couple of weeks ago. He called his agent, Barry Meister, and told him flatly that his career was over. No debate, no waffling, no lingering. "I wouldn't change a thing," Brocail said over the phone Wednesday. "I can tell you this -- you're not going to hear about me trying to make a comeback."

For me, as a reporter who covered him for a couple of years in San Diego in 1993-94 and has since bumped into him from time to time, he has always been someone who is great to talk to. He loved baseball, loved being in baseball, loved pitching, loved the competition. He was always unpretentious, never made excuses, never blamed anybody, and if he was wrong, well, he'd be the first to tell you. He was loyal to his teammates -- even to those he didn't really like very much -- a trait that was easy to respect. As a reporter, you are asked all the time about whether you root for teams, and really, you don't; you root for stories. But you always hope for good things for good people you run across, and I hoped for good things for Doug Brocail.

Everything that Brocail got, he earned. In order to pitch in 626 games in his career, Brocail endured more than a dozen surgeries, including two Tommy John surgeries, as well as a life-threatening heart blockage that brought him near death in the spring of 2006.

Baseball has been like oxygen for Brocail; memories flow easily from him.