Topps baseball card, 1983 series no. 68, autographed by Show
Born: May 19, 1956|
Died: March 16, 1994 (aged 37)|
|September 2, 1981, for the San Diego Padres|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 30, 1991, for the Oakland Athletics|
|Earned run average||3.66|
Eric Vaughn Show (//; May 19, 1956 – March 16, 1994) was a Major League Baseball player who played for most of his career with the San Diego Padres. The pitcher holds the Padres record for most career wins, and he was a member of the first Padres team to play in the World Series. On September 11, 1985, he surrendered Pete Rose's record-breaking 4,192nd career hit. Show's later life was affected by drug abuse. He was found dead in his room at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility in 1994.
Eric Show was born in Riverside, California. He attended the University of California, Riverside, where he majored in physics and played college baseball for the Highlanders from 1976–1978. In 1977, Show won a Division II College World Series with the team.
Show made his debut in late September 1981, and the following year went 10–6 while splitting time between the starting rotation and bullpen. In 1983 he won 15 games. In 1984, he followed with a 15–9 record. However, he struggled in the postseason, going a combined 0–2 with a 12.38 earned run average in three games.
On September 11, 1985, Show became famous for giving up Pete Rose's 4,192nd hit, which surpassed the all-time career hits record that had long been held by Ty Cobb. During the delay to honor Rose, Show sat on the mound with his arms folded. In The Ballplayers: Baseball's Ultimate Biographical Reference, Mike Shatzkin wrote that Show was "disgruntled (perhaps rightly so) at the lengthy interruption of the contest." Padre Garry Templeton later called Show's actions "bush." Then Show got into a dugout shoving match with left fielder Carmelo Martínez over a ball that fell for a single and led to the game-winning run. Finally, Show refused to stay to answer the post-game questions, leaving his teammates to criticize him in his absence. "I'm tired of hearing about his unlucky luck," said Tim Flannery. "That's been at the root of the problem all year. If something goes wrong, he quits. That's why runs aren't scored for him. Guys don't want to play for him. One guy got tired of hearing it."
Before the game, when Show had been asked about the possibility of giving up "The Hit", he responded: "I guess it doesn't mean as much to me as it does to other baseball enthusiasts. I mean, in the eternal scope of things, how much does this matter? I don't like to say this, but I don't care. ... Don't get me wrong. I'm certainly not putting down Pete. It's a fantastic accomplishment." "Gosh, he felt so bad after that, and he didn't know how to articulate it," said teammate Dave Dravecky. "Sometimes when you're brilliant like he was, the simplest of things are the hardest of things to express." Show later offered, "We have a choice – to think or not to think – and I've come to the conclusion that most of these guys don't want to think about anything but baseball, and I'm kind of ostracized for that."
On July 7, 1987, Show hit the year's eventual National League MVP, Andre Dawson of the Chicago Cubs, in the left cheekbone with a fastball during a game. Dawson had homered in three of his last five plate appearances at that point, and the Cubs reacted with a bench-clearing brawl. Show and his manager (and former Cub), Larry Bowa, later denied that the pitch was purposeful, while Bowa acknowledged that he could understand why the Cubs would think it was.
Show made his last appearance on the National League leaderboard in 1988, a season in which he went 16–11 with 13 complete games and pitched 2342⁄3 innings. In June 1989, Show underwent back surgery and then received cortisone injections for ongoing back discomfort. Show showed signs of drug addiction in his later career, and some of his teammates suspected that the issues had started as Show attempted to relieve his back pain.
By 1990, Show had lost his regular spot in San Diego's rotation. The Padres did not pick up his option and bought out his contract for $250,000. Though Show had become known for his tardiness and confrontations with teammates and management in San Diego, the Oakland Athletics had taken risks on troubled players before. They signed Show as a free agent in 1990. Show also played in 1990–91 with the Mayaguez Indians of the Puerto Rican Winter League.
Show's episodes of erratic behavior began to involve law enforcement by 1991. He was arrested by the police in downtown San Diego while yelling that someone was trying to kill him. Placed inside a police car, he kicked out the window and fled on foot. He was apprehended later that day, and he admitted to having used crystal methamphetamine. Show showed up later that year at the Oakland A's training camp with bandaged hands; reports had been made of his acting oddly inside an adult bookstore, and Show tried to flee from police, cutting his hands on a barbed wire fence. Oakland released Show after 1991, and he never appeared in professional baseball again.
Within baseball, Show's intellectual interests set him apart. Flannery said that most baseball players were singularly focused on baseball, while Show enjoyed discussing subjects like politics and economics. The pitcher was also a born-again Christian and a jazz musician who was known to play guitar with the hotel lounge bands during team road trips. He was involved in real estate and marketing, and he owned a music store.
In 1984, Show revealed that he was a member of the John Birch Society. When people asked whether Show's membership in the far-right organization indicated that he was racist, teammate Tony Gwynn defended Show against such charges. Show's agent, Arn Tellem, said that his membership in the group was part of his search for answers about how the world worked. After Show gave up Rose's record-breaking hit, Graig Nettles said, "The Birch Society is going to expel Eric for making a Red famous."
Show was married to Cara Mia Niederhouse, who he had met while playing in a summer college baseball league in Kansas. They did not have any children.
After his retirement from baseball, Show continued to struggle with drug abuse. After a month-long stay at a drug rehabilitation center in Dulzura, California, Show checked out of the facility on March 14, 1994. He called the center the next night, admitted to having used alcohol, heroin, and cocaine, and asked to come back for more treatment. He was found dead in his room at the treatment center on the morning of March 16. Dravecky delivered the eulogy at Show's funeral. He was buried at Olivewood Cemetery in Riverside.
- Schrotenboer, Brent (May 18, 2008). "Mystery man". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on December 16, 2011.
- "University of California, Riverside Baseball Players Who Made it to the Major Leagues". Baseball-Almanac.com. Archived from the original on July 12, 2004. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
- "Eric Show". GoHighlanders.com. UC Riverside Sports Information. Archived from the original on December 18, 2012. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
- Shatzkin, Mike (1990). The Ballplayers: Baseball's Ultimate Biographical Reference. Arbor House Pub Co. p. 999. ISBN 0-87795-984-6.
- "Inside Pitch Statistics Through Sept. 15". CNN. September 23, 1985. Archived from the original on January 2, 2013. Retrieved May 2, 2010.
- Seven ejected in beanball exchange. The New York Times. July 8, 1987. Retrieved August 2, 2013.
- Kernan, Kevin (October 12, 1990). "Clark insists he can play with Gwynn 'We're both pros,' says conciliatory 'bad guys'". The San Diego Union.
The Padres did not pick up the option on Show's contract, electing instead to buy out the contract of the club's all-time winningest pitcher for $250,000
- Berkow, Ira (March 27, 1994). "Eric Show's solitary life, and death". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-06-26.
- Rules of abuse. The San Diego Union-Tribune. May 24, 2008.
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference
- An account of the game that featured a bench-clearing brawl after Show hit Dawson with a pitch
- "All's Right With His World", Sports Illustrated. August 6, 1984.
- Frank Russo (April 1, 2003). "Eric Vaughn Show". Baseball player. Find a Grave. Retrieved July 1, 2011.