Teix­eira hon­ored by Yan­kees

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Mike Fitz­patrick

Mark Teix­eira hugged one team­mate at a time as he walked off the field, ini­tially near his fa­mil­iar spot at first base and then right down the line in the New York Yan­kees’ dugout.

He tipped his cap to the crowd of 33,277 as the fans offered a stand­ing ova­tion, pat­ting his chest with his mitt and say­ing, “Thank you.”

And with that, one of base­ball’s most pro­lific switch-hit­ters said good­bye.

“Men­tally and emo­tion­ally, I kind of pre­pared for it,” Teix­eira

said. “It wasn’t as weird as I thought it would be.”

Teix­eira was hon­ored by the Yan­kees dur­ing a 12-minute cer­e­mony Sun­day prior to his fi­nal ma­jor league game. He went 0 for 3 in a 5-2 loss to the Bal­ti­more Ori­oles, his home­town team, and was re­placed at first base by Tyler Austin with one out in the sev­enth in­ning so he could soak up the cheers as he ex­ited, fully com­posed.

“I couldn’t have asked for any­thing more but a win,” Teix­eira said. “I got a chance to say good­bye, which was very im­por­tant.”

The switch-hit­ting slug­ger was given sev­eral gifts be­fore the game, with fans still fil­ing in for the sea­son fi­nale on an over­cast af­ter­noon. Teix­eira waved and doffed his cap as one video board posted “Thank you Tex!” while the large one in cen­ter field dis­played

his ca­reer achieve­ments and rolled through var­i­ous high­lights in trib­ute.

Once the game started, the en­tire crowd joined in when the Bleacher Crea­tures chanted Teix­eira’s name dur­ing roll call. And the 36-year-old first base­man soon flashed his Gold Glove form with a fully out­stretched, div­ing play be­hind the bag to rob Matt Wi­eters of a hit in the sec­ond in­ning.

Teix­eira made another nice stop in the fifth, but failed to scoop third base­man Ron­ald Tor­reyes’ short-hop throw in the fourth just be­fore Wi­eters’ two-run homer.

With his con­tract set to ex­pire, Teix­eira an­nounced Aug. 5 his plans to re­tire af­ter this sea­son, his 14th in the ma­jors.

“Be­cause this was my last year with the Yan­kees, it made it so much eas­ier,” he said. “Play­ing my last year some­where else just wouldn’t have felt right. The last few spring train­ings have been pretty sad

be­cause I’ve had to leave my fam­ily, and I think that’s a sign.”

Teix­eira bat­ted fifth and grounded out twice be­fore fly­ing out to shal­low cen­ter field in his fi­nal at­bat. Over in the Bal­ti­more dugout was man­ager Buck Showal­ter, Teix­eira’s first big league skip­per in Texas.

Asked be­fore the game how he planned to han­dle Teix­eira’s farewell, Yan­kees man­ager Joe Gi­rardi said he was leav­ing it up to the three-time All-Star and would look for the “per­fect way” to help him exit.

“He seems to be in re­ally good spir­its,” Gi­rardi said. “I think this day is go­ing to be filled with ev­ery type of emo­tion.”

Dur­ing the cer­e­mony, Yan­kees play­ers and coaches were perched on the top step of the dugout and they ap­plauded af­ter the high­light reel.

With his wife and three chil­dren at his side near home plate, Teix­eira was pre­sented with a framed No. 25 jersey by Yan­kees

owner Hal Stein­bren­ner and his wife, Christina, as well as gen­eral part­ner Jen­nifer Stein­bren­ner Swin­dal.

Brett Gard­ner and CC Sa­bathia gave Teix­eira an en­cased base au­to­graphed by his team­mates, and the fes­tiv­i­ties also cel­e­brated Teix­eira’s years of char­ity work with Har­lem RBI.

“Thank you for all you have meant to the New York Yan­kees,” pub­lic ad­dress an­nouncer Paul Olden said.

Drafted fifth over­all out of Ge­or­gia Tech by the Rangers in 2001, Teix­eira also played for the Braves and An­gels. He fin­ished his ca­reer with the same amount of hits as games played (1,862). He bat­ted .268 with 409 home runs and 1,298 RBIs, join­ing Mickey Man­tle, Ed­die Mur­ray, Chip­per Jones and Car­los Bel­tran as the only switch-hit­ters in ma­jor league his­tory to reach 400 homers.

“He knew how to play the game, and that will be missed,” Gi­rardi said. “It’s un­for­tu­nate that his in­juries,

I be­lieve, cut his ca­reer short.”

Teix­eira joined the Yan­kees in January 2009 when he signed a $180 mil­lion, eight-year con­tract. He de­liv­ered im­me­di­ately, help­ing New York to a World Se­ries ti­tle that year and fin­ish­ing run­ner-up for AL MVP.

He hit a game-end­ing homer in the play­offs against Min­nesota that sea­son — then cre­ated another last­ing mem­ory just days be­fore his fi­nale with a walkoff grand slam Wed­nes­day night to beat ri­val Bos­ton.

“I told Joe that I wouldn’t be able to top what happened on Wed­nes­day night no mat­ter what,” Teix­eira said. “Af­ter my third at-bat, I told him I was ready.”

Teix­eira has won five Gold Gloves and three Sil­ver Slug­ger awards. He is the only first base­man in big league his­tory with at least five Gold Gloves, 400 homers and 400 dou­bles.

Be­fore a string of aches and pains be­gan to take

their toll in re­cent years, Teix­eira was very durable. And from 2004-11, he had eight straight sea­sons with at least 30 home runs and 100 RBIs.

“You can just count on him. And it’s such an ad­mirable trait,” Showal­ter said. “Just a real con­sis­tent human be­ing.”

IN THE FU­TURE

Teix­eira said he doesn’t think he’d be in­ter­ested in the daily grind of man­ag­ing or coach­ing at the ma­jor league level, though he’d be open to be­ing a spring train­ing in­struc­tor down the road. He said he thinks work­ing in tele­vi­sion would be a lot of fun.

“I’m not leav­ing my house to­mor­row. I told my wife if it’s nice out, I’ll play out­side with the kids,” he said. “I just want to en­joy do­ing noth­ing for a day, and Tues­day I’m go­ing to play golf.”

“I’m go­ing to stay very busy, that’s kind of my na­ture,” he added. “I’ll al­ways be a Yan­kee.”

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