Bartolo Colón to retire from professional baseball
The former Cy Young winning pitcher spent 21 years in MLB and has decided to call time on a wondrous career
The great Vin Scully once said that it was only a minute in a man’s life between the All-Star game and the Old-Timers game, and in Bartolo Colón’s case, that sentiment could not have been more apt. The Dominican fastballer has been an All-Star four times in his career, the first in 1998 and the most recent in 2016. Around those two decades, Colón has wrapped a wondrous baseball career.
At 49 years old, he is still hurling four-seamers, albeit around ten miles per hour slower than he did in his prime. But speed was never Colón’s weapon, he was no Randy Johnson. Instead he was known as a master of ball placement. He walked very few batters, but gave up a lot of hits as a result of his desire to always put it over the plate.
When the Cleveland Indians signed the young Dominican back in 1993, he looked promising and strong, but by the time he was brought up in 1997, he showed the grit that would make him an All-Star. Throwing the most pitches ever thrown to a single batter when he struck out Ricky Gutiérrez on 20 pitches, he proved to be a grafter, a hard-throwing pitcher who was not afraid to attack the strike zone.
Traded to the Expos, and then to the White Sox, he entered free agency in 2004 and signed with the Angels where he won the Cy Young Award after a 2005 season that saw him go 21–8 while posting a 3.48 ERA.
By 2008, he was on the move again, this time to Boston where he had a productive but fractious season that placed him at odds with the Red Sox front office and at the end of the season he went back to the White Sox for a second stint.
Injury saw him miss nearly two seasons before he worked his way via the Puerto Rican winter league to a contract with the Yankees. While he had a resurgence of sorts on the back of a controversial shoulder surgery, he wound up travelling to the A’s in 2012.
His pitching in Oakland was outstanding, so much so that he was tested and found to have a synthetic testosterone in his system, for which he was handed a 50-game suspension. The following season, he went 11-3 with a 2.78 ERA and made his third All-Star appearance.
Signing with the Mets in 2013, he became the much-loved fan favorite, as much for his bat as his arm. He got his first base hit in nine years when he doubled off of Lance Lynn against the Cardinals. He became only the third Domincan pitcher to record 200 wins, alongside Juan Marichal and Pedro Martínez.
He joined a few legends on the record books while playing for the Mets, mostly to do with his now-advancing age. His longevity meant that when he struck out eight batters on Opening Day 2015, he joined Cy Young and Nolan Ryan as the only pitchers over 40 to have accomplished the feat. When they got to the World Series, his loss in Game 1 made him the oldest pitcher to have lost a World Series game.
The following season, he made the play that he will most be remembered for when he hit his first major league home run against the Padres, which made him at 42 years and 349 days of age, the oldest player to hit his first home run.
Making stops in Atlanta, Minnesota, and Texas before choosing to enter free agency after the 2018 season. He signed with the Acereros de Monclova in the Mexican league just before covid hit the planet and has been playing winter league ball in his home country of the Dominican Republic.
Back in New York’s Citi Field to play in the Mets Old Timers game, he gave an interview with Spanish radio broadcaster Johnny Trujillo about his future plans, where he indicated that it was finally time to hang up the glove.
“God willing, I would like to pitch a couple of games (with Aguilas Cibaenas of the Dominican Winter League) so I can say goodbye to the game of baseball and to all those Dominican fans because they deserve it.”
Asked about reports earlier this season that he was perhaps considering a comeback into the Show, he was a bit more cryptic, saying, “I have never stopped practicing. I am still practicing in my town and pitching against the kids over there. I have always been ready for anything, for whatever comes my way. I just keep working.”