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Former Cubs outfielder Tony Campana announces retirement from baseball

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He could do one thing on the baseball field very well — run fast.

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

I’ll bet you didn’t know Tony Campana was still playing baseball.

The former Cubs outfielder turned 35 earlier this year and had been playing since 2018 in various leagues in Mexico.

Saturday, he sent out this tweet:

So let’s remember a guy!

Campana was selected by the Cubs in the 13th round in 2008 out of the University of Cincinnati — the same place Ian Happ played his college ball.

Truth be told, Campana wasn’t that great a hitter or outfielder, but man, could he run. He stole 66 bases in the Cubs organization in 2009 split between Low-A and Advanced-A and stole another 48 bases at Double-A Tennessee in 2010.

After hitting .342/.383/.442 (41-for-120) in 30 games at Triple-A Iowa in 2011, Campana was called up to the Cubs and made his MLB debut May 17, 2011 at Cincinnati. He doubled in his first major-league at-bat in a 7-5 loss to the Reds and became a semi-regular center fielder for the next couple of months on a team that would eventually lose 87 games.

On August 5, 2011 at Wrigley Field, the Cubs hosted the Reds. Starlin Castro led off the bottom of the first inning with a single and Campana was the next hitter:

Campana’s hit, which probably should have been a single or double, got by Yonder Alonso and went to the ivy in left field. Alonso really had no business being an outfielder — he played only 17 games there in a 911-game MLB career — but by the time the ball was relayed to the infield, Campana had crossed the plate standing up with an inside-the-park two-run homer. It turned out to be the difference in a 4-3 Cubs win, and Campana’s 3-for-5 day with the homer was probably his best game as a big leaguer.

Campana stole 24 bases for the Cubs in 2011 with just two CS, and stole another 30 in 2012 in just 89 games played. Since 1951 — when we have reliable SB percentage figures — Campana’s SB percentage (88 percent) ranks second among all players who have at least 75 career stolen base attempts. For the Cubs, where he had a 91.5 percent success rate stealing, that’s the franchise record for anyone with 50 or more attempts with the team (Davey Lopes is second at 87 percent).

In February 2013 Campana was traded to the Diamondbacks for minor league pitchers Jesus Castillo and Erick Leal. Castillo was later traded, in 2016, to the Angels for Joe Smith, who posted a 2.51 ERA in 16 games for the Cubs that year. I suppose, in a way, Campana could be said to have had a tiny positive impact on the 2016 World Series champion Cubs. He finished his big-league career in 2014 having hit .249/.296/.288 with 66 stolen bases in 257 games.

Tony Campana wasn’t a great baseball player, but he was fun to watch on the basepaths. Thanks for the memories, Tony, and best of luck to you going forward.