This afternoon, Andy Pettitte will officially announce his retirement at the end of the 2013 season. It is not a surprising development considering he is 41-years old and has already retired once. But combined with Mariano Rivera’s departure after this year and Derek Jeter’s injury-plagued season, it does seem to mark an official end to an incredible era of New York Yankees baseball.
Pettitte will make his final start in Yankee Stadium this Sunday, which happens to be Mariano Rivera Day. In a statement released earlier today, Pettitte hoped the announcement wouldn’t steal Rivera’s thunder:
“One of the things I struggled with in making this announcement now was doing anything to take away from Mariano’s day on Sunday. It is his day. He means so much to me, and has meant so much to my career that I would just hate to somehow take the attention away from him.”
But graciousness and adoration is not a zero sum game, so Pettitte has nothing to worry about. His official retirement will not diminish from Mariano’s celebration in any way. In fact, it will only add to it.
Rather than thanking one Yankees legend for more than a decade of clutch performances and indescribable exaltation, the pinstripe faithful will thank two. This is going to be Paul O’Neill’s sendoff in Game 5 of the 2001 World Series – times two.
The Old Stadium had countless moments of immeasurable emotional and historical magnitude. So far, the new stadium has also seen some monumental events, such as Jeter’s 3000th hit and the 2009 World Series Championship. Pettitte got the win in the decisive Game 6 of that series, and Rivera closed it out.
How appropriate that Rivera will be honored on the same day that Pettitte – the pitcher who he has combined with for the highest win-save combination in history – makes his final home start.