Many of you probably saw a while ago that Monday morning brought sad and shocking news - Mariners scout Frank Mattox, who had been with the organization for 18 years, died suddenly at the age of 49. He died at his home in Arizona, and he wasn't previously thought to be ill. He is survived by his wife and three children.
There's no denying that this is kind of an awkward and uncomfortable situation for a fan. A member of the Mariners family has passed away entirely too soon. Another member of the Mariners family, after already having recently lost some others. But as callous and horrible as it sounds, this doesn't hit the way Greg Halman's death hit, or the way Dave Niehaus' death hit. Fans didn't know that much about Frank Mattox, so the reaction to his passing is more uncertain.
If fans knew anything about Frank Mattox, they knew that the Mariners drafts under his leadership were largely unsuccessful. Top picks included Matt Thornton, Ryan Christianson, Sam Hays, Michael Garciaparra, John Mayberry and Adam Jones. The Mattox drafts did little to stock a system that needed to be stocked.
But it's unfair to reduce Mattox to the drafts that he led, just as it's unfair to reduce anybody to any one thing. For one, successful drafting is probably one part ability and four parts luck. And for two, Mattox was a lot more than a guy who oversaw some drafts. He was with the Mariners for 18 years, spanning several different front offices, which tells you something. He worked for the Rockies before that, which tells you something. He played in the minors before that, which tells you something. He earned a B.S. from Cal before that, which tells you something. He had a large and loving family, which tells you something.
Frank Mattox's death is tragic in a way that few of us can understand, as few of us knew much about Frank Mattox. It's the certain knowledge that it is tragic for some that makes it feel tragic for many, albeit tragic to a lesser degree, as if the core tragedy were passed through a filter. The varying ways we respond to different people's deaths makes a lot of us feel shitty when we really think about it, but we can't feel the same about everything. We are to live how we're programmed, and to feel bad about that sometimes.
Frank Mattox lived how he was programmed, and then he ceased living too soon. Jamie Moyer is trying to make the Rockies at the same age at which Frank Mattox passed away. Mattox leaves behind a full family that was surely planning on his being around for another 40 or 50 years. Dwell on that, only, and in time you might begin to feel a little less callous, and a little more of the sadness that validates your humanity.