These players ended careers on a high note

September 1st, 2019

Most careers don't end on the highest of notes, but the players below were fortunate enough to ride off into the sunset following one last moment of glory.

These are the career sendoffs that stand out the most from the past century:

Ted Williams, Red Sox
Sept. 28, 1960, vs. Orioles

Williams was still an offensive force in his final season, most of which he played as a 41-year-old. The slugger finished with a 1.096 OPS, the highest mark among all Major Leaguers with at least 300 plate appearances. Although the campaign would end in familiar fashion for Williams and the Red Sox -- without a postseason appearance -- the "Splendid Splinter" showed off his sweet stroke at Fenway Park one last time, going deep in his final trip to the plate for career home run No. 521.

Tony Gwynn, Padres
Oct. 6, 2001, vs. Rockies

While Gwynn rarely started in his final season, serving as a pinch-hitting specialist, he still finished with a batting average north of .300 for the 19th straight year. His final hit, which came in his second-to-last game and was the 3,141st of his career, was vintage Gwynn -- as the 41-year-old sliced an RBI double to the opposite field before being lifted for a pinch-runner and exiting to a standing ovation.

Derek Jeter, Yankees
Sept. 25, 2014, vs. Orioles

Throughout his career, Jeter showed a flair for the dramatic and a knack for rising to the occasion in the biggest moments -- which made his final plate appearance at Yankee Stadium all the more fitting. New York entered the top of the ninth inning with a 5-2 lead, but Baltimore scored three runs to tie it up -- with Jeter due up third in the bottom of the frame. Anticipation was high after Jose Pirela led off with a single and Brett Gardner bunted pinch-runner Antoan Richardson over to second to bring Jeter to the plate with a chance to win the game. Of course, "Captain Clutch" delivered, lacing an opposite-field single on Evan Meek's first pitch of the at-bat to bring home Richardson as the Yankee Stadium crowd gleefully celebrated the storybook ending.

David Ross, Cubs
Nov. 2, 2016, World Series Game 7 at Indians

Ross became a folk hero during his two seasons with the Cubs, and the final game of his career also happened to be arguably the most important game in franchise history -- Game 7 of the 2016 World Series. The veteran catcher entered in the bottom of the fifth when Jon Lester came out of the bullpen and was immediately involved in two tough plays that he wasn't able to make -- committing a throwing error on Jason Kipnis' slow roller down the third-base line and failing to block Lester's pitch in the dirt, which allowed two runs to score. But Ross made up for those miscues in the bottom of the frame, crushing a home run off Andrew Miller to become the oldest player in history to go deep in Game 7 of the Fall Classic (39 years, 228 days). He later walked and was removed for a pinch-runner in the ninth inning, as he ended the game with a perfect batting line and headed into retirement with his second World Series championship.

Best of the rest

Here are some more memorable sendoffs from years past:

Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners
March 21, 2019, vs. A's (at Tokyo Dome)

Entering the 2019 season, Ichiro hadn't played in a Major League game since the previous May. But the Mariners signed him to a Minor League deal in January 2019 and carried him on the big league roster for the Japan Opening Series against Oakland. This allowed the legendary outfielder to get a hero's welcome and play his final career game in his native country. Watch >

Joe Mauer, Twins
Sept. 30, 2018, vs. White Sox

Concussion issues forced Mauer to give up catching after the 2013 season, but he donned the equipment one last time to catch a single pitch in the ninth inning of his final game as the Target Field crowd showered the Minnesota native with cheers. Watch >

Mariano Rivera, Yankees
Sept. 26, 2013, vs. Rays

A year before Jeter called it a career, another iconic Yankee wrapped up his retirement tour in memorable fashion. Rivera stepped on the mound for the final time at Yankee Stadium and tossed 1 1/3 perfect innings before longtime teammates Jeter and Andy Pettitte emerged from the dugout to lift the tearful right-hander from the game -- which led to a lengthy standing ovation from the Bronx faithful. Watch >

Gary Carter, Expos
Sept. 27, 1992, vs. Cubs

After stops with the Mets, Giants and Dodgers, Carter returned to Montreal -- where he spent the first 11 seasons of his career. While he posted a line of just .218/.299/.340 over 95 games, the 38-year-old reminded Expos fans of his past greatness in his final plate appearance. He crushed an RBI double over the head of former teammate Andre Dawson to score the only run in a 1-0 win at Olympic Stadium. A jubilant Carter pumped his fist in celebration when he reached second base and doffed his helmet to the adoring crowd as he jogged off the field amidst a chorus of cheers after being pulled for a pinch-runner. Watch >