By Allison Kamel
Baseball said goodbye to two legends this season, and New York said goodbye to a long-time team member.
Let’s start with the man known not for playing the game, but for talking about the game. Vin Scully has been the play-by-play announcer for the Los Angeles Dodgers for 67 seasons. He began broadcasting for the Dodgers in 1950, when they were still a Brooklyn team. When the Dodgers moved across the country in 1957, Scully went along with them. In the time that followed, he became known as the voice of the Dodgers, a voice that was made for radio. He has a cadence and grace that stands out against other radio broadcasters. Over the years, he has seen many players come and go and he brings a special kind of intelligence to the game. He knows what he’s watching and announcing because he has been doing it for so long.
Scully broadcasted his last baseball game on October 2, a Dodgers-Giants game at AT&T Park. During the game, the Giants unveiled a plaque in his honor. Willie Mays helped present this honor to Scully in a ceremony at the beginning of the 4th inning. Scully is just as much a part of the Dodgers-Giants rivalry as any other team member, so it was fitting for him to end his broadcast career in the Giants’ stadium.
“I have said enough for a lifetime and, for the last time, I wish you all a very pleasant good afternoon,” said Scully, signing off from the Dodgers game for the very last time.
Following that, a pre-recorded message played, where Scully recited a prayer and said goodbye to the fans. He ended with a message that reminds us all of just how well spoken he has always been.
“But you know what? There will be a new day and, eventually, a new year. And when the
upcoming winter gives way to spring, oh, rest assured, once again, it will be time for Dodger basebal
“So this is Vin Scully, wishing you a very pleasant good afternoon — wherever you may be.”
Second up is Red Sox’ David Ortiz. “Big Papi” began playing for the Sox in 2003, after a six-year stint with the Twins. He has been a member of 10 all star teams during his career and has received countless awards, including World Series MVP in 2013. Even with his suspected involvement with steroids, the baseball community loves — and loves to hate — Big Papi. For New Yorkers in particular, Ortiz is a major part of the Yankees-Sox rivalry. For the 2000s, it was Ortiz, Manny Ramirez and Pedro Martinez vs Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada. This rivalry (and respect) between the two teams is something Ortiz himself addressed in an open letter on The Players’ Tribune on Sept. 27.
“Our rivalry with the Yankees made me who I am,” Ortiz wrote. “The intensity of that competition is what I’m gonna miss the most when I’m done.”
The Sox and the Yankees matched each other in everything they did, which gave Ortiz a lot of respect for the people he was playing against.
“Manny was the best power hitter I’ve ever seen, but Mariano had the single best pitch I’ve ever faced,” said Ortiz. “Trying to hit for power against Rivera’s cutter was impossible. He broke so many bats that Louisville Slugger should be paying for his pool. Against Mariano, all you were gonna get was a bloop. He was on another level.
Ortiz had a fantastic 2016 season — .315 batting average, 127 RBIs, .401 OBP and 38 homers. Those numbers don’t sound like a retirement season. But Ortiz has been in the majors since 1997 and he is ready to move on.
Ortiz wrote in his letter, “You look around now, and [Derek] Jeter] is gone. Mariano is gone. Manny, Pedro, Moose, Pettitte, all gone. I’m the only old man still left.”
When it was time to say goodbye, both the Red Sox and the city of Boston showed their appreciation for Big Papi. The Red Sox had an image of Ortiz pointing to the sky, as he does when he hits home runs, cut into the outfield of Fenway Park for their last regular season home stand. Big Papi’s number, number 34, will be retired by the Red Sox. This honor means much more coming from this franchise than some teams, like the Yankees who, if they keep retiring numbers at their current pace, will soon run out of non-retired two-digit numbers. The Sox have only retired 10 numbers, including Jackie Robinson’s 42. Ortiz will be the first player to have their number retired without being in the Hall of Fame.
The city of Boston, thanks to Mayor Martin J. Walsh and state legislators, are looking to rename both a bridge and a street after him. They want to rename the Brookline Avenue Bridge to David Ortiz Bridge and Yawkey Way Extension to David Ortiz Drive.
This reflects just home much Ortiz means to Boston. Big Papi captured these sentiments himself when he wrote, “Boston is not just my team. Boston is my city. I consider myself a Bostonian, and it’s the thing I’m most proud of in the world.”
Finally, a long time member of the New York Yankees retired this season. Mark Teixeira has been the Yankees’ first baseman since 2009, the last time the Yankees won the World Series. Teixeira began playing in the majors in 2003 with the Texas Rangers and has also played for the Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He has won a few gold glove awards and made the all star team three times. Since 2012 though, Teixeira has been very injury prone and spent a lot of time on the disabled list instead of playing first base. This is why many Yankee fans are happy to see him go.
Even with the injuries, Teixeira had a good run with the Yankees. Over the eight seasons, he hit .248, 622 RBIs and 206 home runs, or as John Sterling has called them, “Tex-messages.” He was one of the important members of the 2009 World Series team. With Teixeira retiring and Alex Rodriguez’s departure earlier this season, the only two remaining members of that team are outfielder Brett Gardner and pitcher CC Sabathia.
The Yankees said goodbye to Teixeira during a pregame ceremony on October 2. He received a framed jersey with his number on it from Hal Steinbrenner and a signed base, presented to him by long-time teammates Sabathia and Gardner. He left the game during the seventh inning after hugging all of his teammates and raising his cap to the crowd.
Teixeira’s defining moment in his retirement did not occur on that Sunday, though. It occurred on the Wednesday before in his second to last Red Sox-Yankee game. He hit home run number 409 during the 9th inning of this game. It was not just any home run, though; it was a grand slam that won the game, 5-3 Yankees. That’s a home run that he, nor any Yankee fan, will forget for a very long time.