Rod Beck…Saved many days.

Former Giants closer Rod Beck, whose spirit flowed as freely as his long, dirty blond hair, and who intimidated hitters with a Fu Manchu mustache and an even more menacing split-finger fastball, was found dead in his Phoenix home Saturday. He was 38. Beck saved 286 games over 13 major-league seasons, including 199 for the Giants from 1991-97. That stood as the franchise record until Robb Nen broke it in 2002. Moments after Nen earned the milestone save, Beck phoned the Giants media-relations department to make sure they relayed a message of congratulations. With a beer belly and the Fu Manchu, Beck had the look of an old-time ballplayer and the fortitude to be a closer, although he did not possess the brute force of a Goose Gossage. His fastball rarely hit 90 mph during his most successful years, but his splitter was unhittable. He stood on the mound, staring at the batter, bent at the waist with his right arm dangling before he delivered the ball. Beck looked like a gunslinger, which made his nickname of “Shooter” so appropriate. “When I was playing for the Indians and we would go to Milwaukee, when they brought in a reliever, they’d be brought in on a Harley-Davidson,” Giants broadcaster Duane Kuiper said. “I always thought Rod would be the perfect guy to ride in on a Harley every time he came in, because that’s how he looked and that’s how he pitched. Rod Beck is someone I will always keep with me as I many times mimicked that intimidating arm swing and wind up while playing some backyard wiffleball. My thoughts to his family.

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