Cruz hangs up Boomstick after 19 seasons, 464 HRs

November 3rd, 2023

After 19 years, 464 home runs and eight teams,  is calling it a career. 

Cruz announced his intent to retire from professional baseball on the Adam Jones podcast Thursday. He reiterated that intent Friday afternoon in an interview with Alanna Rizzo on MLB Network’s High Heat.

“I knew early in the [the 2023 season] that this is going to be it,” Cruz, 43, told Rizzo. “It didn’t end the way I wanted, but I’m really grateful for the game and all the organizations that gave me a chance to be the man I am today.”

Cruz started his MLB career in September 2005 with an eight-game stint with the Brewers, then was traded to the Rangers in July 2006. He spent eight years with Texas, where he slugged 157 home runs and drove in 489 runs while earning two American League All-Star nods. Cruz's best season with the Rangers came in 2011, when he slashed .263/.312/.509 with 29 home runs and 87 RBIs.

Cruz earned 2011 AL Championship Series MVP honors when he slugged six home runs in Texas’ six-game win over the Tigers. He had his signature moment in that series, hitting a walk-off grand slam in Game 2 -- still the only walk-off grand slam in MLB postseason history.

That Rangers team lost to the Cardinals in a World Series for the ages -- 12 years before Cruz watched his former club beat the D-backs for its first World Series championship.

“I was pulling for them the whole time; I was pumped,” Cruz said. “I wish I was there. Really happy for the organization and the fans. They’re the best in the world. I have nothing but love and support for them.”

After leaving Texas, Cruz signed a one-year deal with the Orioles, where he hit an MLB-leading 40 home runs to help lead Baltimore on a Cinderella run that ended in the 2014 ALCS. That was the first of six seasons in which Cruz earned MVP votes. After leaving the O's, Cruz spent four seasons with the Mariners and parts of three with the Twins before playing with the Rays, Nationals and Padres in his final 2 1/2 seasons.

Cruz became the 22nd member of the 400-home run club on Sept. 22, 2019, with the Twins, a season in which he won his third of four Silver Slugger Awards. He became the oldest player ever (41) to hit 30 home runs in '21, finishing with 32 between Minnesota and Tampa Bay.

Cruz also generated a career’s worth of accolades off the field. He won the 2021 Roberto Clemente Award and represented the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic four times.

“There’s nothing like winning the Roberto Clemente Award,” Cruz said. “You impact so many lives. Growing up, I saw my dad help the community, and I knew that was something I always wanted to do. And I’m blessed to be able to have done that through baseball.”

Cruz was on the 2013 Dominican team that won the Classic. His Pool Play home run off Andrew Miller in the 2017 Classic was one of the top moments in Dominican baseball history.

Cruz will get a final opportunity to add to his Dominican baseball legacy, announcing he’ll be playing five games in the Dominican Winter League, each of which will be at a different stadium in the country. He'll hang up his cleats for good after that.

"I owe so much to this country; they’ve supported me through ups and downs,” Cruz said. “I love my country. The Dominican League helped me to become a good baseball player and also helped me learn how to be good under pressure. So I knew before I retired that I needed to play in each stadium in the Dominican so the fans could see me one last time.”