After 19 productive seasons, nine-time Gold Glove winning outfielder Torii Hunter is retiring from baseball, as he tells LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star-Tribune.
Hunter, 40, spent 12 of his 19 seasons in a Minnesota Twins uniform. In 2015, Hunter returned home to Minnesota in what turned out to be his final campaign. While Hunter enjoyed a characteristically successful season, hitting.240 with 22 HR and 81 RBI, he felt it was finally time to move on and leave behind the game he’s played most of his life.
“I’ve been married to the game 23 years. I put it almost No. 1 in my life. My family kind of second. I made sacrifices for my family. And now it is time to give them more time.”
After getting a cup of coffee with the Twins in 1997 and 1998, Hunter got an extended look with the club in 1999, earning a spot as an outfielder off the bench. But, he wouldn’t enjoy his breakout season until 2001, a campaign in which he hit.261 with 27 HR and 92 RBI. He also won the first of his nine Gold Gloves that year.
From 2001-2007, Hunter became a perennial All-Star and helped lead the Twins to several American League Central division titles. Over that span, Hunter slashed.272/.326/.484 with 178 HR and won seven consecutive Gold Gloves. So, after finishing his career in the place he called home for over a decade, Hunter says telling his teammates he was retiring was a hard task.
“It was hard to tell those guys. I loved those guys. I told myself I wasn’t going to cry. I’ve been playing since I was 20. And I almost did. It was like a marriage breakup.”
After the 2007 season, the Twins were reluctant to give their mainstay of 11 seasons a lengthy financial commitment. Therefore, after rejecting a three-year, $45 million deal from the Twins, Hunter joined the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim after inking a five-year, $90 million pact, per USA Today.
Despite switching from center to right field towards the end of his tenure with the Angels, Hunter continued to be one of the most productive outfielders in baseball. During his five-season stint in a Halo’s uniform, Hunter hit 105 HR while posting a combined.286/.352/.462 slash line. He added two more Gold Gloves to his mantle in both 2008 and 2009.
— Angels (@Angels) October 27, 2015
Hunter expressed appreciation for his time as an Angel.
“I thank the Angels for adopting me and making me part of the Angels family, all the teammates I had over there. The Angels fans, love them.”
After 2012, Hunter left the Angels to sign a two-year, $26 million deal with the Detroit Tigers. While he was no longer the defender he was during his prime years, Hunter’s bat was still productive as ever. In his two seasons in the Motor City, Hunter posted nearly identical seasons.
In 2013, he played in 144 games while hitting.304 with 17 HR and 84 RBI. In 2014, he played in 142 games, hitting.286 with 17 HR and 83 RBI.
This past offseason, Hunter rejoined the Twins on a one-year, $10.5 million deal, via MLB.com. Expected to be a mentor to a young Twins team, Hunter’s presence helped the team enjoy a season above expectations, finishing with a 83-79 record, but they did not make the playoffs.
Torii Hunter: 1 of 5 primary CF with 2,000 hits, 350 HR, 175 SB (W. Mays, K. Griffey Jr., E. Burks, C. Beltran) pic.twitter.com/wiz4D6k4DS
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 27, 2015
In 19 seasons, Hunter finishes his career as a.277 hitter with 2,452 hits, 353 HR and 1,391 RBI through 2,372 games.
In parting, Hunter thanked a litany of people. Among those he expressed gratitude toward was the Pohlad family and former managers Ron Gardenhire and Tom Kelly. Hunter saved his final sentiments for the fans who supported him over the past two decades.
“The Twins fans, you can’t beat them. That’s my family. The city is my love.”
[Image by Jason Miller/Getty Images]