Hanging Up The Spikes: Pops, The Babe, Satchel, Ted and Dizzy.
September 6th, 1982. An emotional Willie Stargell speaks to President Ronald Reagan in front of a packed house at Three Rivers Stadium. Stargell had announced that 1982 would be his last season and September 6th was dubbed “Willie Stargell Day.” Stargell was honored prior to the game and had his #8 uniform number retired, which he wore proudly as a Pirate for 21 consecutive seasons. He went 1 for 1 in the game with a single, as a pinch hitter late in the game. Less than a month later, he collected his last career at-bat, also going 1 for 1 with a single in a game against the Expos. (Image Source: Explore PA History)
May 30th, 1935. At the age of 40 and now playing for the Boston Braves, Babe Ruth decided to call it quits after an 0 for 1 performance against the Phillies. The Babe pulled himself from the game after making a poor play in the outfield, which resulted in a run scoring. This was a sad and unglamorous end to the most prolific career in the history of the game. It’s almost as if you can see the defeat in Ruth’s face as he sits in the dugout during his last day as a big league ballplayer.
The Babe should’ve hung up his spikes 5 days earlier, after a game with the Pirates where he went 4 for 4, with 3 homeruns. Now that would’ve been fitting and poetic. Ruth ended up finishing his last season in the big leagues with an un-Ruthian .181.359/.431 batting clip, with 6 home runs in 28 games.
From what I can piece together, Satchel Paige last pitched in a professional baseball game in 1967, at the age of 60, with the Indianapolis Clowns. At this point, the Clowns were an independent barnstorming team, and (I believe) were the last team hanging on from the Negro Leagues, with the Monarchs disbanding in 1965.
I can’t find any legitimate photos of Paige from 1967, but I found this photo of him with the Clowns from 1966. While his time with the Clowns in 1967 is the last professional baseball that Paige supposedly played, he did pitch in 1, possibly 2 exhibition games for the Braves during his time as a coach in 1969. Unfortunately, I’ve never seen video or photos of him actually pitching with the Braves. (Image Source: Baseball History Daily)
In the history of baseball, I’d say that Ted Williams had one of, if not the most memorable last game of a career. This is due to hitting a home run in his last at-bat, which ended up being number 521 of his incredible career.
This famous moment took place on September 28, 1960 and was well documented, as there are both video and photos capturing his last swing. However, when I came across the above photo of Teddy Ballgame taking the field alongside second basemen, Marlan Coughtry, it resonated with more than his home run. Maybe it’s because I’ve never seen this image? Maybe because it’s not glamorous and shows a more “normal” moment of a ballgame? Either way, I love it and I love Ted Williams. (Image Source: Boston Globe)
When most people think of Dizzy Dean, they associate him with the Cardinals or maybe even the Cubs. But what about the Browns? It turns out that Ole’ Dizzy’s last hurrah as a player in a the big leagues was with the downtrodden St. Louis Browns, with whom he’d been a broadcaster for since 1941.
On September 28th, 1947, Dizzy left the Browns broadcast booth to play in a game against the White Sox. Dean was supposedly paid only $1 for the game along with a cut of the ticket sales for the day. The last time he had pitched in the big leagues was with the Cubs, so it was safe to say that he was a little rusty. Well, ole’ Dizzy ended up pitching 4 complete innings, where he only allowed 3 hits and no runs. After successfully hitting a single in his first and only at-bat, Dean took himself out of the game after pulling his hamstring. Not bad for a retired 37 year old. (Image Source: Bob Lemke’s Blog)