I just thought I would write to tell you how sad I am you’re not coming back to baseball as a player, and also that I understand why. The time to stop comes for us all. For you, however, this conclusion is not simply the ending of a career, but the ending of a legacy. You’ve meant so much to so many that saying goodbye seems insufficient. Instead, I’ve elected to say thank you; for all the things you’ve given that will never leave this game.
Thank you for realizing that your legacy was about more than some huge statistic; for never hiding your humanity behind a number, but putting a number behind your humanity. You’ll be referenced in print because of what you accomplished on the field, but you’ll be written about for decades to come because of the man you were off it.
Thank you for that time you called me back about using your name in my book and talking to me like we had been friends for years, even though we’d really only known each other for a month of shared bullpen time. I can’t begin to express to you how fun it was to tell all my new teammates, “Yeah, that was Trevor. We were just catching up. No big deal.”
Thank you for your relationship with Mark Merila. Watching the two of you play catch when I arrived in the big leagues was the most inspirational thing I have ever seen in baseball. And thank you, Mark, for your unwavering positive attitude; for showing us all through your perseverance what it truly means to overcome adversity, and appreciate the joy and privilege held in the game we play.
Thank you for loving your wife and kids. Sadly, you and I both know loyalty is not a given in this sport, especially for those who reach the magnitude of fame you did. Thank you for holding on to those values, and putting them at the forefront of your life style.
Thank you for disagreeing with the mentality that making it to the big leagues meant you deserved something, that you didn’t have to work hard anymore, and that people should be thankful to have a piece of your time.
Thank you for not throwing an electric slider or a turbo splitter, but a change-up. As a young right hander, it sure stinks knowing you’ll never have a devastating power pitch like the other big names, but anyone can throw slower, right? Thanks for making the everyman’s off-speed pitch cool. Sure, no one will ever have a change-up like yours, but it is a lot easier to pretend.
Thank you for signing baseballs for me whenever I asked you too, especially that one time when you were eating after a game against the Nationals and I needed four.
Thank you for coming out to Hell’s Bells. Seeing that first hand from the bullpen was &%$#!@ awesome!
Thank you for getting me a medium Hooter’s Girl outfit for my rookie hazing and not a small. That could have been bad for everyone.
Thank you for that that conversation at the end of the season when you told me you honestly believed the best part of me wasn’t what was represented on the baseball field, and then, even though I put together one of the worst September call-up auditions of all time, telling me you also believed I’d go on to do some good stuff on the ball field. I hope I prove you right on both someday.
Thank you, Hoffy, for being you: an amazing player and person I hope other players shamelessly try to imamate the greatness of. If they do, baseball will undoubtedly be a wonderful place for teammates, coaches, and fans for many years to come.
Best wishes to you in your new life outside the lines. Oh, and just so you know, the best part of you isn’t, and wasn’t what was on the field either.