Remembering Brian Traxler

9 years ago, a career minor leaguer passed away.  I remember reading the article and being very sad about it.  Brian Traxler was 37 years old.  He had one cup of coffee, so to speak, with the Dodgers in 1990.  He had one hit in 11 official at-bats for a career Major League average of .091.

A guy like Traxler would normally go unnoticed.  But for the teams he played with and the fans that saw him down in the minors year in and year out, he became a bit of a cult hero.  Everyone who knew him spoke well of him.

Me personally, I knew about Traxler long before many of them.  He’s one of my favorite Dodgers of all-time.  Let me tell you why.

In 1990, I was an 8 year old kid at Charter Oak Park in Covina, CA, just 25 miles from Dodger Stadium.  A few Dodgers came out for a community meet-and-greet and autograph signing and my dad took me to it.  The main Dodger at the event was Jim Gott.  There was another Dodger at the event at the time, I can’t remember who.  It might’ve been Mike Hartley, but I just can’t remember for sure.  The third Dodger to come to the event was Brian Traxler, at the time a rookie first baseman with a power bat who was trying to make his way with the Big Club.

Here I was, 8 years old with 3 guys in Dodger uniforms in front of me.  Real Dodgers.  Larger than life.  I didn’t have many cards at the time or really understand what to do or what to bring to autograph sessions.  I had a few sheets of paper.  I figured I’d just have them sign on a line with their names underneath so I’d know who they were.  I waited in line and finally got to have my chance.  I walked up to each player.  I remember Gott and the other guy kind of scoff at being handed pieces of paper, like signing such things was beneath them, but they signed them.  When I got to Traxler, he smiled and took my paper and we had a little conversation that went something like this. He asked me “what’s your name kid?”  I said “My name’s Eric.”  He smiled and said “hi Eric, I’m Brian.”  I asked him “Do you like playing for the Dodgers Brian?” and he said “yes, very much.”  He gave me a smile and signed my sheet of paper on the line right above his name.  I said “I hope you hit a home run next game Brian.  Thank you.”  And he said “I hope so too.  You’re welcome.”

At that point, Brian Traxler didn’t have to do a single additional thing in Blue.  He made this 8 year old boy’s whole year.  And for that, he will always be one of my favorites.

Brian Traxler never did hit that first major league home run, but he did have a hit to his credit.  He also pleased crowds as the primary first baseman for the Albuquerque Dukes for a number of years.  Traxler also spent some time playing for the Fargo-Moorhead Red Hawks, a year in the Japanese league, and split time with a few other independent teams up until the 2000 season

In all, Brian Traxler would play 13 minor league seasons, hit 109 home runs and bat a collective .294.  After his career was over, Traxler spent time in the Dodger organization as a hitting instructor, a position he held at the time of his death.  In the process, he also raised a family and left good impressions on just about every person he ever came across.

Brian Traxler passed all too soon at the age of 37 on November 19th, 2004.  I wish I knew what I had done with those pieces of paper all those years ago, they’re long since gone.  But my memory of Brian Traxler isn’t.

If you would like to read more about Brian Traxler, this obituary by Rory Costello tells Brian’s story in-depth in a personal and thoughtful manner that I couldn’t even begin to touch on.

Brian Traxler's 1990 Donruss Rookies card, card # 38, as seen in Rory Costello's obituary article
Brian Traxler’s 1990 Donruss Rookies card, card # 38, as seen in Rory Costello’s obituary article

(The sources of information on Traxler for this entry can be found in the following locations:
http://www.oursportscentral.com/services/releases/?id=3105346&l_id=46&t_id=547 for “Former RedHawks Star Brian Traxler Dies at 37”, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Traxler for Traxler’s Wikipedia article, and http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/t/traxlbr01.shtml for Traxler’s statistics at Baseball-Reference.)

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7 thoughts on “Remembering Brian Traxler

  1. Hi Eric — I’m glad you enjoyed the Trax bio. Your experience just goes to show how consistently nice he always was in his dealings with people. I sure wish I could have met him.

    1. Hey Rory, thank you for stopping by! Its been busy lately and I haven’t been able to keep the blog up as much as I’d like but I’m still seeing some traffic. Anyway, compliments again on your great piece on Brian. It was a moving tribute to a man who clearly touched many lives and gave me an even deeper appreciation for him.

  2. Thank you Rory for sharing Eric’s story and thank you Eric for sharing your story. I have shared it with Ashley and family/friends. It is always nice to know that he was able to touch others the way he did us.

    1. Mrs. Traxler, I am honored to have had you stop by and read my posting on Brian. Your husband is well-remembered by Dodger fans. When I initially posted this blog back around the beginning of the season and shared with friends a lot of people chimed in on Facebook with good thoughts. I hope that you and your family are doing well. Thank you for allowing us all to have had the chance to know Brian in some small way through his contributions on and off the field.

  3. Stacey Davis /Traxler
    Thank you for the heartfelt remembrance of Brian, my brother. I am his younger sister, Stacey. You literally made me cry by remembering what a great and humble man he was. It was a tragic loss for our family, but thank you for remembering him and the good man he was! We are glad you put your story out there and showing the real man that he was.

    1. Stacey, it is a pleasure to have crossed paths with your brother in my life. I know that many others feel the same way. As I’ve read up on him, the one thing I’ve noticed is not only that everyone remembers him well, but everyone seems to have a Brian Traxler story, too. Something uplifting. Him doing something wonderful for the fans or his friends or the community, or him doing something that lifted moods and made people laugh. Thank you for stopping by.
      -Eric

  4. Nice to see you chime in here, Stacey! You were maybe about the only person in Brian’s immediate family and close circle with whom I did not speak for my bio. Sorry I missed you. 🙂

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