In the fall of 1997, the newly formed Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays plucked Fred McGriff from the Braves in the expansion draft, leaving a big offensive hole at first base. Fortunately for the Braves, there was someone out amongst the sea of free agents willing to plug that hole: Andres Galarraga.
Galarraga signed a three-year contract with the Braves a mere two days following McGriff's departure. The Big Cat, as he was called (for his agility as a defender), was coming off back-to-back 40-HR/140-RBI seasons as one of the Rockies' Blake Street Bombers (Walker, Bichette, Castilla). He certainly had the resume - he won the NL batting title in 1993, but he was 37 years old, so one could reasonably expect a decline in production away from the thin air of Denver. Any doubters he had were soon silenced as he mashed 44 home runs with 121 RBI while also earning his fourth All-Star selection. This also made Galarraga the first player EVER to hit 40 home runs in consecutive years for two different teams. However, things were about to take a turn for the worst.
During Spring Training in 1999, Galarraga began to feel some discomfort in his back. The discomfort turned out to be cancer - specifically non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He would miss the entire 1999 season while undergoing chemotherapy, but would return on Opening Day in 2000 to a standing ovation, and a comeback of this magnitude just had to have a dramatic home run attached to it.
Galarraga was awarded Comeback Player of the Year in 2000 with 28 home runs and exactly 100 RBI. He elected free agency and signed with the Texas Rangers. Here his production began to decline. He was traded midseason to the Giants and returned to his original team, the Expos, for the 2002 season. Unfortunately, following the 2003 season, Galarraga's cancer relapsed and he was forced to miss most of 2004, but he was able to beat it a second time and appeared in seven games for the Angels that year.
He attended Spring Training in 2005 with the Mets, but opted to retire with 399 career home runs. In retirement, he was a coach on Venezuela's WBC teams of 2009 and 2013, and currently resides in West Palm Beach.