“I love to play the game. I love to pitch. It’s a shame to get old.”
Those were the true and telling words Andy Pettitte told the media after the final out of the game, the final out of his career. It’s a somber thing to know that the stars you idolize one day will grow old and will be forced to hang it up due to age, despite the fact that they love playing baseball. Pettitte always was one to dream of going out on top, and although the final start of his career wasn’t at Yankee Stadium, it was just as special. In 116 pitches, Andy Pettitte pitched a complete game, giving up one run on five hits, getting his 11th win of the season and ending his career on a high note.
Andy Pettitte looked strong through eight and two-thirds before giving up a single to Chris Carter. Joe Girardi went to the mound and it appeared he was taking out the veteran lefty–until Girardi said some quick words and walked back to the dugout, leaving Pettitte on the mound. The next batter grounded out, ending the game. After the game, Pettitte stood on the mound, overcome with emotion as he let some tears fall from his eyes, waving to the fans of Houston that had supported him during his brief stint with the Houston Astros. His mother, father, wife, kids and half of the town that Andy grew up in showed up for such a marvelous feat, knowing this chapter was about to close and another chapter was about to open: Retirement (Part 2).
It seems fitting Pettitte finished the game on the mound in Houston, a place that’s near and dear to his heart, and it’s also fitting that he finished his career on a team that he won five World Series Championships with. When Pettitte stepped off the mound after the complete game, everything changed. The Yankees will never have Andy on the mound again, he won’t prepare for another start against a team that he knows he has the wits to defeat, he won’t be there popping champagne when the Yankees clinch another division, he won’t be there on the field running to the middle of the mound when the Yankees win another World Series Championship. Pettitte knows what retirement holds for him, even telling his buddy Mariano Rivera that he was going to love retirement. There’s no one that could be a better teammate than #46. He guided the way the month of September, he returned to vintage Pettitte, and as quickly as vintage Pettitte came–he left. And this time, he isn’t coming back.
Photo credit: (September 27, 2013 - Source: Scott Halleran/Getty Images North America)