NEW YORK– The words from Sergio Romo published Monday in THE PLAYERS TRIBUNE:
“Dear San Francisco: Tonight I get to do something one last time — something that’s been one of the biggest honors of my whole life: I get to put on a Giants jersey. And before I go do that, I just wanted to write this letter, and share some thoughts with you all. Thanks for reading.”
The words were simple and to the point. Romo, the three-time World Series champion with the San Francisco Giants, wrote a compelling farewell to fans, the Giants organization, and all others that provided him an opportunity to shine on the mound as an elite relief pitcher, perhaps next to the Yankees Mariano Rivera considered one of the best in this era.
He is retired now, officially after the Giants provided the 40-year old right-hander a last opportunity to throw some pitches in the 7th inning Sunday evening at Oracle Park. It was a fitting tribute for a Mexican-American who became a fan favorite, perhaps not a Hall of Famer but etched in Giants baseball history.
He was popular, a baseball character on the mound. He had a wicked slider that opposing hitters would challenge and fail in their attempts to overcome. Basically, Romo was difficult to handle and he explained more in the his own words to THE PLAYERS TRIBUNE:
Regarding his Dad, he said “I wanted to be. I saw how baseball made my dad light up… and ever since then it’s made me light up the same. It’s the one thing in life that always made me feel visible.”
“My baseball career has really been about keeping two promises. The first promise is the one I made my dad at 11 years old: that I’d do well enough in baseball that he could retire. It took 14 years as a pro, but finally in 2018 he called me up and said, “Mijo, I filed the papers today. I retired. Then, I broke down crying.”
“I don’t think even my dad knew how much that meant to me. Or how much that promise had kept me going so many times on my journey. The second promise was to Bobby Evans and Brian Sabean, after they drafted me in 2005: that they didn’t waste their pick, and that I wouldn’t let them down. And it’s funny, because now I’m filing my own retirement papers….. and I’m hoping you all feel like I kept that second promise as well. Like I made the most of the opportunity given to me by the Giants.”
Leaving the Giants wasn’t the same. Sergio Romo, basically was at that tailend of a career, struggling to refine that slider with three other teams including the Dodgers, Tampa Bay, Marlins, Twins, Athletics, Mariners, and Toronto Blue Jays.
Last year after a brief and last try with the Blue Jays, Romo had a stint in Mexico, a different element from throwing a baseball off a Major League mound, but it was pitching and it was still baseball with another opportunity. But it wasn’t Sergio Romo who made an impact with the Giants and with those shining moments in a Giants uniform.
Sunday night, Romo got on the mound. He greeted fans and fist-bumped youngsters during his farewell, even posting a photo on his Instagram account and holding a sign similar to a student on the first day of school but indicating it was his last day as a Major League Baseball pitcher. He signed a cap for a fan, another of those Sergio Romo moments.
Every time a kid asked Sergio Romo for an autograph in spring training he asked them to sign his hat first. He wore this to the mound tonight: pic.twitter.com/O3CXB5BLyr
— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) March 28, 2023
And there were many of those glorified and proud moments with the Giants, and how many can say they have three World Series championship rings in their collection? Sergio Romo has the rings, got the accolades, and now it was time to say goodbye. Not a Babe Ruth or Mariano Rivera sendoff, something the Yankees do so well. But the Giants, they paid homage to one of their best and let him don the uniform one final time.
You’re always welcome home, Sergio pic.twitter.com/Zg1vMlWO1g
— SFGiants (@SFGiants) March 28, 2023
It was as they say, one final and shining moment on the mound that precluded entering “El Mechon” and standing ovation. Moments later a pitch clock violation after walking his first batter, throwing a wild pitch, and allowing two singles.
He was removed, got his last standing ovation, tipped his cap, hugged Giants manager Gabe Kapler after Hunter Pence came to the mound and made the pitching change. Romo tried to retain his computer, fought back those tears, and got a third and final standing ovation.
1 Sergio Romo. pic.twitter.com/uYUZK1889L
— MLB (@MLB) March 28, 2023
A 15-year career was over. Romo was now headed home. The transition is now official.
“What an experience,” Romo said afterwards. “Very fitting to find some closure in what is for me was a storybook career. I understand how special this opportunity was,” he said when asked about the opportunity to pitch one final time and with an arm that struggled to throw his nasty slider.
Eight different organizations and those nine years with the Giants, Romo two years ago, as he always was receptive to me said, “I don’t know how much is left but I will look back at every moment and say ‘It was a ride of a lifetime that very few get an opportunity to do.”
That was in the visitor’s clubhouse at Yankee Stadium, a Blue Jays uniform and cap, a relief pitcher that was granted another attempt to perfect that slider and help his team out of the bullpen.
He admitted, it was not the same and was thankful for those who gave him the opportunity to prolong a career, one that was ready to ride in the sunset, hopeful though there would be some more time.
More time, because Sergio Romo always believed that baseball and pitching was meant to be. It is always difficult to say goodbye to a career that provided for him and his family. Always a proud moment to dedicate a career to his Dad, an 11-year old who was encouraged to pick up a baseball and throw.
Next chapter, he said in THE PLAYERS TRIBUNE: “It’s family time. I have a beautiful, loving, patient wife, and five boys — Rilen, Rex, Rhys, Mateo, Lucas — about to get more of me than they’ll know what to do with. I’m going to make sure they follow their dreams, like my dad made sure I followed mine. It’s time for new journeys and new promises. It’s been an honor.”
And it’s been an honor watching him pitch, talking to Sergio Romo about the game, family, and life in the clubhouse after another save or not so perfect outing on the mound.
He was as they say, original and similar to meeting and talking to a friend the first time.
From all of us at Latino Sports the best and enjoy a well deserved life after baseball.
Rich Mancuso Co-Editor and Senior Writer Latinosports.com Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso.
Watch “Sports With Rich” with Rich and co-host Robert Rizzo Tuesday evening 8pmET on the SLG Network and YouTube
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