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Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Blown Save(ings): Former All-Star Closer Jeff Reardon Charged with Armed Robbery

Jeff Reardon, a former All-Star closer who pitched in the big leagues from 1979 to 1994, was arrested yesterday on armed robbery charges in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. According to the police, the 50-year-old entered a jewelry store and "handed a clerk a note demanding money. The clerk, believing Reardon had a gun, filled a bag with an undisclosed amount of cash." With his bag full of cash in hand, Reardon fled the store. Within a short-time, however, the police found Reardon at a local Chinese restaurant--with the same bag in hand--and arrested him.

A conviction on armed robbery charges could pose a sentence in excess of 10 years.

Although Reardon was best known for his time with the Minnesota Twins (with whom he won a World Series ring in 1988), I best remember him from when the Boston Red Sox signed him as a free agent in 1989. Reardon was born and raised in Massachusetts, and his signing was naturally considered a great homecoming. It was also a lucrative move: at age 34, he received a 3-year, $6.8 million contract from the Red Sox.

But the hometown aspect was most appealing. Just consider these comments from Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy right after the Sox signed Reardon in December 1989:
The Red Sox have a pitcher who knows the meaning of traffic rotaries, Bill Monbouquette, candlepin bowling and Johnny Pesky.

Jeff Reardon of Dalton, Mass., is coming home to pitch for the Red Sox and he promises not to complain about save situations, wives' seating or the Mass. Pike toll increase scheduled for next spring.

Jim Rivers was Jeff Reardon's high school baseball coach in Dalton and yesterday said, "I couldn't be happier for him. This is his boyhood dream. He's always wanted to be in Boston."

Boyhood dream.

As cliches go, this is one of the best. We are on the threshold of the '90s, and baseball stories are accompanied by an endless stream of digits. The key words are pacts, contracts, extensions, bonuses and incentives. There is no room for the fuzzy dreams of a young boy in bed, laying on his back, pounding a ball into a Sears glove, staring at the ceiling and envisioning himself standing on the great mound at green Fenway. Jeff Reardon is finally going to pitch for his hometown team . . .

Reardon is coming home, and there is joy in the sleepy streets of Dalton, Hinsdale, Washington, Cummington, Windsor, Becket and Peru, Mass. These are the tiny towns served by Wahconah Regional High School, where Reardon got his diploma in 1973. There's a lot of pride in this rural area. (Dan Shaughnessy, "Home is Where He Belongs," Boston Globe, Dec. 7, 1989, at 109).

Although Reardon is obviously innocent until proven guilty, if the charges do prove true, it is striking that Reardon could have apparently blown all of his career earnings, and had to resort to a not-well-executed jewelry store robbery as a result. This story brings to mind the limited career earnings curve of pro athletes, and how important financial advisors are to their post-game futures.

Update 12:15 PM: Fox Sports has more details on the incident, and those details cast a far more positive light on Reardon. To say the least, he has had a rough past couple of years, as his 20-year-old son died of a drug overdose in February 2004, and Reardon underwent a heart angioplastly last week. Reardon claims that medication from the surgery caused his bizarre behavior.


Sounds like Reardon will be using his antidepressant medication as a defense in court. Here's a blog entry in the Palm Beach Post about his attorney's defense strategy:

Anonymous Anonymous -- 1/18/2006 11:16 AM  

Oops... here's that link to the blog about Reardon's attorney again:

Anonymous Anonymous -- 1/18/2006 11:18 AM  

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