I was a senior in high school when a 22-year-old named Timothy Leroy Lincecum from Renton, Washington was drafted by Major League Baseball in 2006. I grew up with professional baseball—I was only five years old when I walked into Candlestick Park for the first time in 1993, the year when Barry Bonds began his lucrative tenure with the orange and black. Although I’ve had many “favorite” players throughout the years (J. T. Snow, Noah Lowry, to name a few), no one has ever made an impact in my life as important as Tim Lincecum.
The year that Tim had been drafted, I hadn’t been watching the 162 games that make up a major league season, so I had no idea who he was, nor how good he actually was (I’ve read that he was drafted tenth overall). I actually hadn’t been watching for years, then. I had lost interest, at the time. That was, until, Tim had made headlines in 2008. As the Cy Young recipient in the National League.
The second that he made headlines, my head immediately turned, and I was intrigued.
His signature long hair was halfway grown when I was first introduced to the man who had once held as many titles as Daenerys Targaryen (The Freak, The Franchise, Big Time Timmy Jim, et al). When I saw him throw a pitch for the first time on Opening Day in 2009, my mouth had never hung open that far. From his windup, to his set, everything about the way that he throws a baseball was mesmerizing. Not to mention that he was pretty cute, too.
Since then, I had been hooked. Though I still hadn’t brought myself to want to watch every one day, I’d watch every fifth day, when it was Tim on the hill. Win or loss, high or low ERA, I’d never ceased to be amazed. He was still the most impressive pitcher that I had ever seen.
And then came 2010, the year that the Giants had won their first of three World Series (the second in 2012, the third in 2014). Coming off of a repeat Cy Young-winning year, Tim was in his prime, leading the team to its first championship in 50-something years. That year, I had finally gotten into watching every one game, especially since the team was dominating, and I had gone to more games that year than I ever did in my entire then-22-year life span.
And the rest was history. From then, until 2015, my entire life had revolved around Tim and the Giants. I had even gotten myself a job at then-AT&T Park in 2011, just so that I could be around the game, all of the time. Not only did my love for Tim grow immensely, but I became an integral part of both the 2012 and 2014 championships, as a San Francisco Giants employee.
But on that fateful month of September in 2015, my life had taken a 360-degree turn for the worse, when Tim’s future with the Giants became uncertain.
He never returned.
He went on to play for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for one year in 2016. Given that the team wasn’t a local team, it was difficult for me to find a way to watch his games; therefore, it was difficult to keep tabs on him and his career, unless he were to make headlines. But, unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one whose life had taken a 360°. His life was, as well.
The quality of his pitching had been declining for years, already, but it began to really show during his few final years with the Giants. And then, when he played for the Angels, it really showed.
In 2017, he disappeared. Out of the spotlight.
I remember, feeling lost that year. Everything felt, dark. And heavy. Tim Lincecum was nowhere to be found, and it was as if my heart was lost, too.
The second that it was revealed that he had signed with the Texas Rangers in 2018 was when my heart had resurfaced. However, learning that his older brother, Sean, had passed, my heart was, once again, shattered. I felt for him, after everything that he had gone through in his life. And then, after a failed comeback with the Rangers, he disappeared once more.
I hadn’t been paying attention to Giants news during this 2019 season, so while there had been rumors and talks about Tim attending Bruce Bochy’s last game, I hadn’t known about it, so I was shocked and surprised when I had heard Renel Brooks-Moon announce, “Let’s welcome back, number 55, Tim Lincecum”. Along with the sold-out crowd of 41,909, I had erupted with screams and tears. Tim had one of the loudest ovations of the day, and it was well-deserved.
For four years, he had been avoiding the ballpark altogether, with former teammates and coaches claiming that he’s a difficult person to get a hold of. I was not expecting him to be at Oracle Park on Sunday, at all. But there he was. Looking the same. Looking as if he had never left.
Sure, he appeared reserved, rather than his normal, colorful self. But who wouldn’t be, after what he had gone through? But, upon seeing those of his former team, I can tell that he was happy to be home. Of course, I was happy that he was home, too.
I was supposed to only be emotional for Boch, on Sunday (and, potentially, Madison Bumgarner, which I was for a second when he pinch-hit against Clayton Kershaw). But when Tim came out from the center field gate, I admit that I was ugly crying, up to when he and Boch hugged.
And then I ugly cried some more, when he and Bum hugged. And when he and Buster Posey hugged. And when he and Boch hugged again. I was more emotional on Sunday than when both Natasha Romanoff and Tony Stark died before my eyes, and that’s saying something.
What Tim had meant to the franchise, you can tell, just by this article that I am writing. Tim had touched a lot of lives throughout the years, and judging by how the crowd had reacted to his return on Sunday, you can tell that he had been sorely missed by more than just myself.
In an interview with Amy Gutierrez, he had mentioned that he is still trying to adjust to life after baseball, still trying to find himself. I just want him to be happy, is all. After everything that he has gone through, I just need him to be happy. And I hope that he is.
With all of this, I want to thank you, Timmy. If you ever come across this article, know that you’ll always have my heart. You have reignited my love for baseball in a way that no one else could have. And your return to our home on Sunday had healed my wounds that I didn’t realize, were still open.
Your fans and I love you, Timmy. Always, remember that.