Meet The Giants - J.T. Snow

"It doesn't take Jack Frost to recognize a snow job…" ~ Mike Brady (The Brady Bunch) Just like Mike Brady and Jack Frost, fans of the Giants can recognize a "snow job" when they see one… …and they wouldn't want it any other way.

Jack (J.T.) Snow, the son of Jack Snow, the former National Football League wide receiver with the Los Angeles Rams, was born on February 26th, 1968 in Long Beach, California. In his junior year at the University of Arizona he led his club in hitting (.359) and was named to the All-Pac 10 team. The New York Yankees made the six-time Gold Glove winner their fifth pick in the June 1989 draft.

Snow, the International League Most Valuable Player in 1992, made his major league debut that same year with the Yankees. Before the start of the 1993 campaign, Snow was dealt to the Angels where he spent four seasons before being traded to the Giants following the 1996 season.

Snow’s inaugural season with both the Giants and the National League also proved to be his career best. Snow established career highs in doubles, homers, and runs batted in. With 104 RBI, Snow became only the fifth switch hitter to reach the century mark in runs batted in for a season in both leagues. Defensively, he won his third straight Gold Glove honor and became just the seventh player (ninth overall) to win Gold Glove honors at the same position in both leagues.

Snow suffered and struggled through the injury-riddled 2001 campaign and spent three different stints on the disabled list. He played in just 101 games and only hit .246 with eight homers and had only 34 runs batted in, his lowest totals since the strike shortened 1994 season.

In 2002, the veteran first baseman had trouble rebounding from his previous injury plagued season. Nagging injuries resulted in his offensive numbers dipping again for a second season. Snow rebounded after the All-Star break and down the stretch and hit safely in ten of his last thirteen contests.

In the 3-2 victory over Colorado on July 11th, Snow was a homer short of hitting for the cycle. Snow’s homer off the Pirates’ Kris Benson on August 4th was his 100th as a Giant and was the first of back-to-back-to-back homers with Reggie Sanders and David Bell following suit.

Snow’s hot bat helped the Giants reach the playoffs.

Snow hit safely in a team-high 15 of 17 October contests. His 15 hits were the most in a Series since 1997 and just shy of the all-time record for a 7-game Fall Classic. Snow batted .407 in the Series and was the only Giants player to hit safely in all seven games against the American League Champion Anaheim Angels.

Picking up where he ended the 2002 campaign, Snow began the 2003 season on a tear, batting .338 with 21 runs batted in for the months of March and April. He blasted his first "Splash Hit" homer, (a two run “splash”) on June 5th off the Minnesota TwinsKyle Lohse.

In a June 17th game against the Dodgers, he strained his left groin while running the bases. The injury bothered him for the remainder of the season and eventually landed him on the Disabled List twice and limited his playing time for the rest of the season. Despite the injury, Snow was again San Francisco’s Mr. Clutch, and ranked second on the club with a .387 on-base percentage and batted .333 with runners in scoring position

Despite being restricted to only 107 games in the 2004 campaign after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, Snow still managed to hit over .300. Finishing with a .327 average, it marked the first time Snow had hit over the .300 plateau in his thirteen-year career. He was the second best hitter in the National League to have at the plate with men in scoring position, batting an impressive .361. Snow belted the first pinch homer of his career on July 4th off the Oakland AthleticsOctavio Dotel to lead off the ninth inning.

After the All-Star break, Snow was the hottest hitter of the National League. His .387 average was good for second best in the majors, with only the Seattle Mariner's Ichiro Suzuki (.429) batting better. Snow led the National League in hitting in August, batting .452. In the August 13th game versus the Philadelphia Phillies, Snow became the 26th player in franchise history to drill three homers in a game. It was Snow’s first multi-homer game for the year and the twelfth of his career. He finished the season hitting safely in 30 of his last 39 games, including a career-high, 13-game hitting streak. Defensively, he committed just four errors. Snow completed his eighth season with the ball club, the third longest stint on the current Giants roster, with only Bonds (12 campaigns) and Kirk Rueter (9 seasons) logging more.

The past few seasons have been injury riddled for the aging first baseman and could easily be held accountable for the drastic drop in Snow’s offensive numbers. Injuries aside and except for one season, Snow was never what one would call your prototypical, hit for huge power numbers, first baseman. Traditionally a slow starter and a strong finisher, what Snow lacks in power, he more than makes up for it in the clutch and with runners in scoring position.

Though the Gold Glove has eluded Snow recently after previously winning six straight, to say that his skills have diminished is a joke. Snow still manages to make the nightly highlight reels and make the spectacular play look routine.

It’s well known that the Giants want Snow for his defense, whatever offensive numbers he can provide are a bonus. The homers Snow may not hit, are recouped on the diamond where his dives, leaps and scoops, save countless runs from scoring every season. In a sport that has seen players come and go through free agency, his eight seasons have made him a fan favorite and a fixture in San Francisco. It only seems fitting that he finishes his career here.

This could still be a few seasons off…

…and Giants fans wouldn’t have it any other way.

Wendy J Sotos is a Cleveland based writer who loves nothing more than a Jim Thome blast and an Omar Vizquel barehanded scoop. Both of which, she believes, will be Hall of Famers when their playing days are over.

Wendy can be reached at: designatedwriter@yahoo. com

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