NEW YORK -- Mark Teixeira's baseball life started in a Maryland backyard, where his father, John, taught him how to switch-hit by raking Wiffle balls across the lawn. It ended on Sunday in the Bronx, where the slugger said he will always consider himself a Yankee.Teixeira played his last Major
NEW YORK -- Mark Teixeira's baseball life started in a Maryland backyard, where his father, John, taught him how to switch-hit by raking Wiffle balls across the lawn. It ended on Sunday in the Bronx, where the slugger said he will always consider himself a Yankee.
Teixeira played his last Major League game in the Yankees' 5-2 loss to the Orioles, going hitless in three at-bats and making two dazzling defensive plays before being removed during the seventh inning. Teixeira hugged his teammates and waved his cap before leaving the diamond for the final time.
"It was huge. I wanted to make sure that I got to say goodbye and thank you one last time," Teixeira said. "I couldn't have asked for anything more but a win; that would have been nice. But I got a chance to say goodbye, which was very important."
Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, his wife, Christina, and general partner/vice chairperson Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal presented Teixeira, his wife, Leigh, and their three children with a framed jersey commemorating his final game. Teammates Brett Gardner and CC Sabathia offered Teixeira a framed base, signed by the 2016 roster.
Teixeira, 36, also received a "Thank You" card from Harlem RBI executive director Rich Berlin, which had been signed by hundreds of participants. Teixeira has been instrumental in the charity, donating more than $1 million while helping to raise more than $10 million.
"He just lives his life the right way," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "You never hear anything about Mark in the papers. He was prepared to play every day. He was a tough guy. I don't know if I've ever seen anyone hit more balls off his feet than this guy. And he found a way to go out there every day. It's unfortunate that his injuries, I believe, cut his career short."
Having worn the Yankees uniform for eight of his 14 big league seasons, Teixeira also spent time with the Rangers (2003-07), Braves (2007-08) and Angels (2008). He finishes as a .268 hitter with 409 home runs and 1,298 RBIs, with exactly the same number of hits (1,862) as games played.
"[I'll miss] the three hours that I played the game and hitting home runs and winning games," Teixeira said. "I'm not going to miss the strikeouts, I'm not going to miss 0-for-4s when we lose a game. I'm not going to miss that at all. I'm going to miss hitting big home runs and making plays in the field and winning games. I'll miss that."
Prior to Friday's game, he sent an autographed lineup card over to Orioles manager Buck Showalter, thanking him for his first years with Texas.
"Really cool. Buck put me on my first big league roster," Teixeira said. "He believed in me as a rookie and stuck with me as a rookie. I had four great years in Texas with Buck."
Teixeira signed an eight-year, $180 million contract as a free agent prior to the 2009 World Series-winning season. Teixeira hit a walk-off home run in Game 2 of that American League Division Series and caught the final out of the Fall Classic from second baseman Robinson Canó.
"They're the team that I'll always be remembered for, I think," Teixeira said. "In my mind, I'm going to live here for a really, really long time and be coming to Yankee Stadium and take my kids to games here. Hopefully if they honor the 2009 World Series team sometime soon I'll be back with all my old teammates. I'll always be a Yankee."
Teixeira is the only player in Major League history with at least five Gold Glove Awards at first base, 400 doubles and 400 home runs. On July 3, he became the fifth switch-hitter to hit 400 or more homers, joining Mickey Mantle (536), Eddie Murray (504), Chipper Jones (468) and Carlos Beltrán (421).
Teixeira said he decided to retire shortly after that, recognizing the toll that neck, wrist and knee injuries had taken on his performance. Yet, despite those aches, Teixeira said he was able to walk out the door feeling more like himself.
He flipped his bat after hitting a memorable game-tying home run in a wild win over the Blue Jays on Sept. 26, then topped it with a walk-off grand slam to defeat the Red Sox two days later at Yankee Stadium.
"My last game on the road, my last at-bat on the road, I couldn't have asked for anything more," Teixeira said, "and then Wednesday night was pretty special. I never thought that I would go out having a week like that, but I'll take it."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.