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Wrapping Up 2001
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Going out: Players who retired in 2001
by Ken Mandel
MLB.com


Paul O'Neill began his career as a Red and finished in Yankee pinstripes.

2001 Retirees

While the 2001 retiring trio of Cal Ripken Jr., Tony Gwynn and Mark McGwire will celebrate its five-year reunion in Cooperstown as the best inductee class since Nolan Ryan, Robin Yount and George Brett, those high-profile players aren't the only ones who wrapped up their careers this season.

Paul O'Neill, Scott Brosius and Luis Sojo walked away from the World Series runner-up New York Yankees with their hands glittering with jewelry. O'Neill takes five rings with him to the beaches and golf courses -- four earned with New York and one with Cincinnati. Sojo earned four with New York, while Brosius collected three, plus a World Series MVP Award in 1998.

"There is nothing else out there for me to chase, nothing else for me to do. As a player, I always felt I wanted to leave the game under my own terms when I knew the time was right. That's what I'm doing right now," Brosius said at his November retirement announcement.

Yankees fans will most likely remember two Brosius moments -- his dance across the diamond after making the final out of the 1998 World Series and his ninth-inning home run off Byung-Hyun Kim in Game 5 of the 2001 World Series.

The third baseman acquired for Kenny Rogers prior to the 1998 season amassed 1,001 hits and 141 home runs in his 11 seasons.

O'Neill, 38, quietly announced his retirement after 17 seasons. "Paulie" arrived before the 1993 season and was almost instantly adopted by fans. He raised his average 65 points to .311 in his first Bronx season, then rapped out five more seasons of hitting at least .300. The right fielder totalled 2,105 hits and clocked 281 homers before he was done.

Fans appeciated his contributions so much that they honored him in the top of the ninth inning of Game 5 of the World Series, in what would be his last appearance at Yankee Stadium as a player. For nearly five minutes, the Yankee faithful stood and chanted "Paul O'Neill" in one on of the most-moving tributes in recent memory.

Anaheim favorite Wally Joyner, who debuted in 1986 when the team was known as the California Angels, returned for a final season with the Halos. Finishing second to McGwire for AL Rookie-of-the-Year honors, Wally World went on to collect 2,060 hits and 204 homers -- including 34 in 1987. Joyner never hit 30 homers again in any season, but steadily hit .300 and was arguably one of the top three defensive first basemen during his tenure.

The sweet-swinging lefty announced his retirement June 16, on his 39th birthday, leaving as abruptly as he had arrived 15 years earlier, with a boyish smile and a lethal swing. His last at-bat produced a pinch-hit RBI single. Joyner also spent four seasons with Gwynn in San Diego and is now serving as the Padres' Assistant General Manager.


Wally Joyner as a California Angel in the '80s.
"These 15 years have gone by pretty quick," he told MLB.com in June. "The pressure is off, and the game is fun again, because I can watch and root with everybody else."

Eric Davis, a 1990 Reds teammate of O'Neill, retired for real this time with San Francisco, after witnessing Barry Bonds' 73-homer season.

A late '80s superstar, "Eric the Red" battled back from numerous serious injuries.

He suffered a lacerated kidney while making a diving catch in the 1990 World Series and the injury kept him out most of 1991. Three miserable seasons later, capped by a .183 average in Detroit, he was forced him into Retirement Part I in 1994. A season off did wonders for the then 33-year-old, who decided he wasn't ready to stay gone.

Davis made a pronounced return with Cincinnati in 1996 and authored his best season since 1990, clocking 26 home runs and driving in 83. A bout with cancer cost him most of the 1997 season with Baltimore, but he roared back in 1998 with a career-high .327 average. He then played 1999-2000 with St. Louis before finishing up for good with San Francisco.

The last hit for the two-time All-Star was a three-run double against the Dodgers. He finishd with 282 homers, 934 RBI and 349 steals.

The Bone -- Jay Buhner -- decided his bones could no longer grind it out after 15 seasons. Representing one of the worst trades for Yankees fans (his trade to Seattle for Ken Phelps was even mocked on an episode of Seinfeld), Buhner personified hard-nosed and Seattle fans adored his bald head and infectious smile. The Bone logged three 40 homer/100-plus RBIs seasons and totaled 310 jacks.

Buhner's teammate, journeyman outfielder Stan Javier, marked the end with a team that won the most regular season games in history. Their chance for a perfect ending was snuffed out when the Yankees beat the Mariners in a five-game ALCS, though Javier already owned a ring won alongside McGwire with the 1989 A's.

Tony Fernandez, who once was included in the first blockbuster trade for Roberto Alomar in 1990, returned home to Toronto during his final season. Fernandez made stops with the Padres, Mets, Reds, Indians and Brewers. He also had two stints in Japan in 1996 and 2000. The switch-hitter's final home run was a grand slam in a 14-0 drubbing of the Yankees on Sept. 4.

Others played so long, it was assumed they would never retire. Exhibit A for 2001 is Dave Magadan, who always had a job somewhere and played aptly as a San Diego pinch hitter since 1999. He wound up with 1,197 hits and a coaching job with the Padres.

Other Major Leaguers weren't quite ready to retire, but were told so by the bodies. Albert Belle didn't officially retire, but is "physically unable to perform." Back injuries forced Rico Brogna, John Wetteland and popular Astro Bill Spiers out. John Jaha was never actually healthy and he finally had enough June 24 after another injury-marred season. A neck injury sent reliever Jerry DiPoto, a rabid collector of baseball memorabilia, to the Colorado Rockies front office. Pitcher Alex Fernandez gave up a four-year fight against shoulder injuries.

A combination of injuries and age spelled retirement for Dwight "Dr. K" Gooden, Tim Belcher, Hal Morris, Hipolito Pichardo and Jim Morris, the pitcher turned high-school teacher turned pitcher again at age 35. Morris is now going to be the subject of a movie starring Dennis Quaid.

"It's been a great ride and I've had a lot of fun doing this," Morris told MLB.com in February "I've worked out extremely hard and I'm extremely happy that Dennis is playing me in the movie. And my 6-year-old is even happier."

On the manager's side, Minnesota Twins skipper Tom Kelly left the dugout after more than 15 seasons. He compiled a 1,140-1,244 record with two World Series Championships in 1987 and 1991.

Ken Mandel is a writer/editor for MLB.com.

2001 Retirees

 PlayerDebutBegan withFinished with
Tim Belcher
Albert Belle
Rico Brogna
Scott Brosius
Jay Buhner
Eric Davis
Jerry Dipoto
Alex Fernandez
Tony Fernandez
Dwight Gooden
Tony Gwynn
John Jaha
Stan Javier
Wally Joyner
Dave Magadan
Mark McGwire
Hal Morris
Jim Morris
Paul O'Neill
Hipolito Pichardo
Cal Ripken Jr.
Luis Sojo
Bill Spiers
John Wetteland
1987
1989
1992
1991
1987
1984
1993
1990
1983
1984
1992
1992
1984
1986
1986
1986
1988
1999
1985
1992
1981
1990
1989
1989
Dodgers
Indians
Tigers
A's
Yankees
Reds
Indians
White Sox
Blue Jays
Mets
Padres
Brewers
Yankees
Angels
Mets
A's
Yankees
Devil Rays
Reds
Royals
Orioles
Blue Jays
Brewers
Dodgers
Angels
Orioles
Braves
Yankees
Mariners
Giants
Rockies
Marlins
Blue Jays
Yankees
Padres
A's
Mariners
Angels
Padres
Cardinals
Reds
Dodgers
Yankees
Red Sox
Orioles
Yankees
Astros
Rangers

 

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Vote on the best plays of 2001 in the following categories:
Regular Season Play
Home Run of the Year
Catch of the Year
Throw of the Year
Defensive Infield Play
Greatest Comeback / Finish
Individual Performance
Memory of the Year
Pitching Performance
Collision of the Year
Postseason Play
Blooper of the Year
State of the Game: Where baseball stands as we begin 2002
What a Season!: MLB.com reporter Ian Browne recaps 2001
2002 Predictions: Mark your calendars for these baseball events this season.
Resolutions: New Year's resolutions from around the league
Diamond Digits: Crunching the 2001 stats
Team gifts: Holiday presents from Santa
Boys to Men: Players who showed extraordinary growth in 2001
Men to Boys: Players who had big 2000 seasons, but flopped in 2001
Gone but Not Forgotten: Tributes to the players we've lost this year
2001 Player Debuts
2001 Season Trivia: Think you know baseball? Test your knowledge
By the Numbers: Figures that stood out in 2001
2001 Retirees: Players who ended their careers
2001 A to Z: A handy reference for the season

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