Going out on top: Ross carried off as champ

In final game, Cubs catcher becomes oldest player to homer in Game 7 of a World Series

November 3rd, 2016

CLEVELAND -- After 883 regular-season games and 25 more in the playoffs, after squatting behind the plate for nearly 6,000 innings and even throwing two innings in relief, after taking endless foul balls off nearly every body part and calling zillions of pitches, is going home. And he's doing so as a World Series champion.

The veteran catcher -- who began with the Dodgers and made stops with the Pirates, Padres, Reds, Red Sox and Braves -- ended his career in style, helping the Cubs win Game 7 of the World Series, 8-7, against the Indians on Wednesday night. After the parade, Ross will be back in Tallahassee, Fla., where he will just be Dad.

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"I think you could write a book on his season this year," Cubs pitcher said of his batterymate. "The guy never ceases to amaze me. We're talking about -- and not a knock on him -- but we're talking about a backup catcher and the impact he had on these guys here and has had on me. There's not many guys in this game when you're done who you still keep in contact with. He's definitely one of them for me.

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"On and off the field, I consider him a brother. I don't have any brothers, I don't have any sisters, and there's very few people I let into my family circle, and he's one of them."

Ross entered the game in the fifth with Lester, who replaced starter . The Indians had one on and two outs, and Lester gave up a single to on which Ross made a throwing error to advance both runners to second and third before they scored on a wild pitch.

Ross, 39, made up for it in the sixth, when he belted a home run to open a 6-3 lead. With the blast, he became the oldest player in Major League history to homer in Game 7 of the World Series. At 39 years, 228 days, Ross surpassed the previous record held by the Pirates' Willie Stargell, who was 39 years, 225 days old when he hit a home run in Game 7 of the 1979 World Series.

Ross' blast traveled 402 feet, as projected by Statcast™, and it came off the bat at 103.9 mph against left-hander , who seemed unhittable for much of this postseason.

"I'd just come into the game and gave up two runs, and I felt like I let the team down," Ross said. "When I hit it [in the sixth], it was as good as I could've hit it."

It's time to help his wife, Hyla, take care of their three young children, Landri, Cole and Harper. Ross made his Major League debut on June 29, 2002, with the Dodgers, although he didn't get his first big league hit until Sept. 2 at Arizona. That same day, he hit his first home run, although it came off first baseman Mark Grace, who was called on to pitch in the Dodgers' 19-1 win over the D-backs.

Ross ends his career with a homer in Game 7 of the World Series. That's not bad for a backup catcher.

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"I hit a home run in Game 7, and I got carried off the field," Ross said. "That doesn't happen. It's like 'Rudy.'"

During the postseason, Ross has taken time for some mental snapshots. Walking to the bullpen prior to Game 1 of the World Series at Progressive Field, Ross heard fans chirping at him.

"I realized I'm never going to be able to be a part of this again as far as these moments, so take this in," Ross said. "I'm trying to tell myself a lot, 'Take this in. Take this in.' You'll see me, if you pay attention, I'll look up in the stands a lot, just because there are not too many times you get to be in front of 40,000, 50,000 people on the field and they're all cheering for a team and you're able to look up and it's just a massive amount of people."

Any thought of reconsidering retirement?

"How do you come back after this?" Ross said. "I would kick my own you know what if I came back after this. My family, my wife, what a treat. I'm so, so lucky. I'm going to come back, but I'm going to come back and get that ring and I'm going to come back and heckle [] from the seats at first base. I'm going to come back every once in a while and just enjoy a wonderful city that has treated me so nice."