Updated: Feb 5, 2020
Forbidden Love is a Cubs DNA series where our staff waxes poetic about a player on a team other than the Cubs. Maybe even one you think they should hate. In this installment, Tina talks about her love for former Giant, current Ranger DH/outfielder Hunter Pence.
I know what you're thinking. Hunter Pence? That weirdo with the even weirder swing? Yep, that Hunter Pence.
Let's look at the many reasons why I love Hunter:
He has a good sense of humor. Back in September of 2016, I attended a game at Wrigley where Jon Lester was pitching a no-hitter into the 7th inning. Then Hunter stepped up to the plate and hit a 2 run homer to bust up the no-no. Fans were not so happy (at least we won the game).
The next day, fans came with signs similar to this. Do you think he cared? Not one bit.
He loves trees! (Staci, this should warm your cold, black heart. lol)
Even Hunter thinks these Player's Weekend uniforms were dumb!
He has a super positive outlook on life.
He has an awesome wife, Lexi, with whom he concocts the most fantastic Halloween costumes!
He loves coffee and games and is part-owner of Coral Sword, a shop in Houston that has coffee, food, beer and tons of games (board & streaming). It looks like a cool place to hang out if you're in the neighborhood!
You could literally spend hours here!
He's a hard working dude. Hunter's numbers fell in 2018, his last year on contract with the Giants. As a result, they didn't re-sign him to a new contract, and he left San Francisco as a free agent. Unfortunately, no other MLB club signed him either. So what did he do? He picked himself up, reinvented his swing and went to the Dominican Republic to play winter baseball, where he helped the Eastern Bulls (Toros del Este) get to the playoffs for the first time in years.
This short film on his journey is worth a watch!
After Winter Ball in the DR, Hunter was signed to a minor league deal with his hometown Texas Rangers. He earned his way back to the majors and posted excellent numbers as a DH in 2019: .297/.358./552/.910. For his efforts, he was voted an All-Star, and most recently won the AL's Comeback Player of the Year by both Sporting News and by the MLB Player's Association, and very likely will win the MLB's award as well.
And that weird swing? That is likely from Scheuermann's Disease, a developmental spine disorder. Hunter has described it as having no flexibility in his thoracic spine. So the fact that he has been able to play at this level with little to no rotation in his mid-back is a testament to his hard work ethic and doing something he truly loves. I hope we get to watch him play a few more years, weird swing and all.
Update: Much to our surprise, Hunter Pence himself actually read this post and tweeted out this delightful response! Thanks to Hunter for making our day and sending Tina into a fainting spell. He and Alexis seem like wonderful humans! --Staci