At first he thought of declining the invitation, but when it came down to it, Rafael Furcal took great pride in representing the Dodgers at the 81st All-Star Game. Just 30 miles down the 5 freeway at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, the site of the Midsummer Classic, Furcal found out immediately how fans felt about his being chosen to play in the game. He was the first Dodger introduced on the July 13 game, and the ovation was loud and long enough for him to doff his cap three times.
Those were well-deserved, as Furcal is one of baseball’s hottest players. In the 15 games before the All-Star break, Furcal hit a Major League-best .444 (28-for-63) and scored 21 runs. He kept it going after the break, getting three hits on July 19, the date when he gained enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title. He led the NL with a .338 average after that game.
“I enjoyed sharing it with my sons, especially Raffy Jr.,” said Furcal. “He’s really into baseball. He even wanted to go catch fly balls during the Home Run Derby.”
Is there any big leaguer hotter than Rafael Furcal?
Simply stated — no.
Furcal was named Bank of America Presents the National League Player of the Week for the period of June 21-27. Furcal led the Majors with a .538 (14-for-26) batting average, nine runs scored and 24 total bases in six games. The Dodgers were 5-1 in those six games. It’s a remarkable accomplishment, considering what the 32-year-old Dodger shortstop has been through.
Furcal returned from the bereavement list on June 23 after a six-day absence from the team. His father passed awayon June 20 from pneumonia and complications from injuries suffered from being kicked by a horse on the family’s farm.
In Furcal’s first game back, a 2-1 loss to the Angels, he struggled in the field, making two errors, and went 0-for-4 at the plate. Since that game, Furcal has been baseball’s hottest hitter. In the 11-game span between June 24 and July 5, Furcal was 22-for-47, batting .468 with three home runs and 12 RBI. He also scored 16 runs and stole three bases.
Within that span was a string of seven consecutive multiple-hit games. The multiple-hit streak was the longest by a Dodger player since Tommy Davis had seven consecutive multi-hit games in 1962. The only other player to do it since the team moved to Los Angeles was Duke Snider, who had eight such games in a row in 1959.
Furcal reflected on his hot streak and his father recently.
“I’ve been feeling pretty good the whole year, it’s just I got hurt for a month and then I lost my father. It took a little bit more concentration for me,” said Furcal. “I know he loved baseball. He wanted me to keep playing hard the way I do it every time, and as soon as I get to the field, I started to forget the hurt.”
Furcal raised his batting average 40 points from June 24 to July 4, where it peaked at .338.