The warm, late-September air shook with chants of “Torii, Torii” before the Los Angeles Angels right fielder even stepped up to the plate.
The chanting did not cease, even when the game was over.
Torii Hunter is in the last year of his contract with the Angels, and all season he’s made a good case for the Halos to bring him back. Consider his performance on Wednesday night, in which he tied the Mariners in the seventh, then walked the Halos off in the ninth with a single.
But while Hunter has stated his own case to remain an Angel through his play, a growing fan movement has swept the Halo faithful.
Fans are using signs, T-shirts and even Tweets to express their support for the star outfielder, most often using the slogan “Keep Torii.” One Twitter user even created a standalone account to garner support for the drive to keep Hunter.
Hunter, meanwhile, may be playing for more than a mere contract.
In all his years as Major League Baseball player, Torii Hunter has never won a World Series championship.
The Angels are a talented team, without question. The team is dotted with both veterans and youngsters, and the Angels have shown flashes of great potential. If the Angels do reach the playoffs, this could be Hunter’s best and final chance to reach the promised land. Hunter’s play in these last few games of the season suggests he knows it.
Even though Hunter has played a catalyst for the Angels in many of their recent contending years, he may be on the tail end of his career. At least, that may be the way the Angels approach contract negotiations. Another five-year deal may be pushing it for the club.
To his credit, though, Hunter has shown little rust in his relatively advanced age. As a right fielder for the Halos, he has boosted the club with dazzling catches and a powerful arm. It would be a shame to see Hunter leave the club, especially knowing he is one of the few recent Angels acquisitions to tangibly boost the team’s performance. He should definitely have some leverage if he wants to remain an Angel.
For now, though, all Halo fans can do is enjoy Hunter’s performance as he tries to push the Angels toward October glory. It may be their last chance.