ST. PETERSBURG -- CC Sabathia won’t be pitching in the 2019 All-Star Game, but Major League Baseball made sure he’ll be included in the festivities anyway.
“We are delighted that CC and his family will join us in Cleveland, where his Major League career began," said MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, who announced Friday that MLB will honor the left-hander during the All-Star Game. "We look forward to celebrating his many accomplishments during our All-Star Game festivities.”
Sabathia, a six-time All-Star during his 19-year career, has announced that he plans to retire following this season. The 38-year-old began his career in Cleveland after being selected by the Indians in the first round of the 1998 MLB Draft.
To be honored at the place his journey began was not at all lost on Sabathia.
“I would’ve gone regardless, but the fact that it is there, I think, made it easier for everybody to make that decision,” he said. “I think that’ll be a perfect opportunity [to reminisce]. Just one last time, going into a relaxed environment, going just to hang out and have fun, so it should be good.”
Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who’ll manage the American League in the All-Star Game, contacted Sabathia a couple of weeks ago to deliver the invitation. While details have not been disclosed regarding just how Sabathia will be honored, MLB certainly has plenty of material to work with.
Sabathia finished second in AL Rookie of the Year Award voting in 2001, after going 17-5 with a 4.39 ERA. He later won the AL Cy Young Award in '07, before being traded to the Brewers before the non-waiver Trade Deadline the following season. He went 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA and tossed seven complete games -- three of them shutouts -- to carry the Brewers into the postseason.
He signed with the Yankees during the ensuing offseason and has played his past 11 seasons in the Bronx. Sabathia finished in the top five in Cy Young voting in each of his first three seasons with the Yankees, while also earning ALCS MVP honors and helping New York win the World Series in his first year with the club.
Sabathia earned his 250th career win on June 19, making him just the 14th pitcher in Major League history with at least 250 wins and 3,000 strikeouts.
“[To be recognized] is amazing,” he said. “Major League Baseball normally doesn’t do things like this, so to be the guy that they’re honoring, it feels good.”
Off the field, Sabathia is a three-time nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award -- an honor given to a player who exhibits "extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field." Along with being the Yankees’ nominee last season, Sabathia was also New York’s representative in 2011 and ‘14.
Sabathia and his wife, Amber, founded the PitCCh In Foundation in 2008. The foundation is committed to helping with the care and needs of inner-city children, while helping to raise self-esteem through sports and education. Since 2008, the PitCCh In Foundation has given more than 15,000 youngsters new backpacks filled with back-to-school essentials in Sabathia's hometown of Vallejo, Calif.
“I’m really excited about it,” said Yankees manager Aaron Boone of Sabathia’s upcoming All-Star honor. “Very deserving and very fitting for him to be able to go back to Cleveland where it all began. I’m excited for him and his family. It’ll be fun to watch it from afar.”