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Garth Brooks Ends Baseball Career
Monday, April 5, 1999
Associated Press.

::::: ALSO SEE :::::
SAN DIEGO - Where's Garth?



That's what some fans wanted to know today at the San Diego Padres' home opener against the Colorado Rockies.



Seems the country crooner bowed out gracefully after a showy six weeks at spring training in Peoria, Ariz., turning down an offer by the Padres to travel with the team for the first month as a non-roster player.



``We offered him a (Trevor) Hoffman deal, $32 million for four years, but he said he could make that in a weekend, so he decided to shut her down,'' General Manager Kevin Towers joked.



But seriously, Towers said Brooks didn't want to hurt the chances of a real player.



``The closer it got to the season starting, I think, this is the type of guy Garth is, he saw this as maybe potentially costing a young prospect or player a spot on a roster and he didn't want that to happen,'' he said.



A couple of nights during the last week of spring training, Brooks and third base coach Tim Flannery played two mini-concerts for Padres staffers.



``Maybe it was on his mind,'' Towers said. ``The next morning (April 1) he came in and said he was not traveling with us to Vegas.''



Brooks, 37, left on a high note. He got his first RBI in 22 spring training at-bats, helping the Padres win 9-8 to finish the Arizona circuit with a 19-11-1 record.



``I thought it was great,'' Brooks said last week. ``All my six weeks, all I wanted to do was contribute.''



Brooks said he got what he wanted from spring training - a chance to fulfill a boyhood dream and to jump-start his Touch 'Em All Foundation, which earns money for children's charities based on players hitting homeruns, stealing bases or pitching strike outs.



The foundation's name comes from a term used to describe what a baseball player does after hitting a home run - touch all the bases.



Brooks said 70 players have already pledged their participation, including Ken Griffey Jr., Roger Clemens, Kevin Brown, Andy Ashby, Larry Walker and Walt Weiss.



Brooks was invited to the Padres' home opener to sing the national anthem, but his managers declined the invitation, club spokesman Charles Steinberg said. Brooks sang ``The Star-Spangled Banner'' at the 1993 Super Bowl, and said it was the hardest song in the world to sing.



Towers said he was happy Brooks joined the Padres at camp, calling him a genuinely good and hard working guy.



``He was an inspiration to our players,'' he said. ``The passion he had for the game of baseball and the way he went about it. It's a good reminder for all of us.''



The publicity for the team and the game didn't hurt either.



``He interacted with the fans and signed autographs for 31/2 hours every night. He did not harm, put it that way,'' Towers said.



And, the team misses him.



``They all said they miss the cowboy. Just having him around, you know. There was just something special about him being around everybody.''



Will Brooks, who first worked out with the team in 1998, be back for a third spring training?



``I don't know. All I know is that we've got a heck of a lot more country-western fans than we probably had before he went into camp,'' Towers said.




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