The San Francisco Giants celebrated my retirement from baseball with an on-field ceremony, and it was epic.
There are those rare, really special players that announce their retirement at the beginning of the season, and then all season long, teams give them farewell ceremonies when they come in for a series. We saw that with Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter. But normally when a reliever retires, he just retires. So what the Giants did for me was overwhelming.
I had several reasons to retire. My body was hurting a little bit more than usual. I was missing my kids — and I mean I was missing them a LOT. I also felt like I wasn’t pitching the way I wanted to pitch.
I could have probably played another year, and maybe even two years. It would have been with several teams, I think. I would have bounced around a little bit, and I might have been with teams I didn’t want to be with. I just didn’t feel like doing that.
I had a lot of conversations with people in the Giants front office, and I got some pretty good advice. Some of it came from a man I respect quite a bit. He said to me, “You know what? Out of all the times you could retire, this is the perfect time, because you’ll be able to retire with the team you want to retire with.” He asked me, “How many more adrenaline rushes do you need in your career?”
I said, “I don’t need any more. I’ve got three world championships.”
He said, “Right. It’s time. And it’s okay. No one is going to be surprised about it. And even better, no one is ever going to look at your retirement and call it a huge disappointment. You have had a great career, and you’re with the team you want to retire with. What if you go with another team next year? Then suppose they release you halfway through the year? Maybe you’re not pitching how you want to pitch, or maybe the season doesn’t go their way. Then they cut ties with you so they can bring up a younger guy and give him some big-league experience. So then you sign a one-day contract back with us, just so you can retire as a Giant. That does not make a whole lot of sense. What makes sense is to retire now, when you’re already with us.”
You know what else he said? He said, “You need to allow us to celebrate you.”
I wasn’t sure about that. I told him, “I don’t know if I want to be celebrated. You know, it’s kind of a lot of hoopla, and I’m not a big hoopla guy.” But he told me, “No, it helps bring closure. Let us honor you. Let us celebrate you a little bit, and you’ll be able to pay a little bit of respect to the people you want to pay your respects to.”
That was important to me. And it was overwhelming. The Giants were the team that I wanted to retire with, and they wanted to honor me.
More on this next time. See you Thursday.