God bless Curt Flood, who sacrificed his baseball life to battle the game's unjust reserve clause and pave the way for his fellow players to exercise greater control of their careers. We have sustained an acceptable casualty, that being the fantasy that baseball players are teammates with common loyalties, sensibilities, or objectives.
The truth, of course, is that alliances are formed amongst players as a result of common circumstance, and that teams resemble temporarily allied groups of mercenaries so closely as to be incompatible with our team-oriented loyalties as fans. I was a fan of both the 1991 Royals and the 2006 Royals, on account of like laundry and little more. Brent Mayne is not John Buck. Mark Gubicza is not Zack Greinke. The Santa sitting in the throne in the mezzanine of the mall is not the Santa standing in the parking lot and ringing a bell. Shrug.
We may as well revel in free agency and how it has shaped the industry's workforce -- one that, for some players, proves to be as transient as that of the restaurant industry. These men are journeymen, a proud fraternity of players who bounce from team to team for most of their careers, merely filling transitory organizational needs.
Here, then, is my question:
Who is baseball's patron saint of journeymen?
The simplest way to answer this question would be to consult the record books and see who has played for the most teams. There is a three-way tie at the top, as Mike Morgan (1978-2002), Ron Villone (1995-2009), and Matt Stairs (1992-present) have each played for 12 teams.
However, I feel this question is a spiritual one, and thus begs a spiritual answer. Something more than numbers is required of us here. For many of us, there's a journeyman who, for some reason or another, stands as our all-time favorite.
My answer is Sal Fasano. He caught for nine different teams, but never played more than 78 games in a single season. He spent his first four seasons with the Royals, before the A's acquired him in 2000. A year later, the Royals took him back, only to trade him away the next month.
He was useful as a veteran catcher and as a home-run hitter off the bench, but his role was limited. He bounced around the league a few more times before landing in Philadelphia, where he found something journeymen rarely, if ever, find: a following.
A group of 20 or so Phillies fans declared themselves "Sal's Pals." They cheered him on and drew big, drooping mustaches on their faces in tribute. Sal was thrilled. He even bought them pizza. And then, after only 54 games with the Phillies, he was sent out of town yet again. He would play for three more teams before retiring.
Perhaps my choice is too sentimental, or perhaps there's a man better deserving of the title of PATRON SAINT OF JOURNEYMEN. Perhaps Fasano's short-lived cult following disqualifies him. Perhaps the whole point of being a journeyman is to live and work in obscurity. What do you think?
Let's discuss this. If you would like to nominate a journeyman for consideration, please do so -- either by commenting below, or by tweeting me at @jon_bois. Later today, I'll sift through your answers and post some of the best.
We have a saint to beatify, people. Let's get to work.