CLEVELAND — All good things must come to an end.
Left-hander CC Sabathia, who graced Major League mounds for 19 seasons, officially said goodbye to baseball on Monday. The 39-year-old had already announced 2019 would be his last year, and after his New York Yankees were eliminated by the Houston Astros on Saturday night, the ride was officially over.
"Through the ups and downs, baseball has always been my home," Sabathia wrote on Twitter. "I'm going to miss going out on that mound, but it's time to say farewell."
During those 19 seasons, CC won 251 games, made six American All-Star appearances, and helped the Yankees win the 2009 World Series. This past April, he also became just the 17th pitcher in MLB history (and only the third lefty) to record 3,000 career strikeouts.
While Sabathia spent the bulk of his career (11 seasons) in the Bronx, he began his baseball journey in Northeast Ohio: CC spent 7 1/2 years with the Indians, breaking in as the runner-up for the AL Rookie of the Year in 2001 and eventually making three All-Star squads and winning the 2007 AL Cy Young Award (the first Tribe player to do so in 35 years). He also helped Cleveland win two AL Central titles before being traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in the middle of the 2008 season, mostly due to the hefty salary he would eventually fetch from New York in free agency.
On Tuesday, the Indians paid tribute to Sabathia on social media for his "great years in our organization and community." He is one of only 14 pitchers to win at least 100 games in a Cleveland uniform, and his 1,265 strikeouts are sixth-most in club history.
During his "farewell" tour, CC made one final start at Progressive Field in June and called Cleveland "like home." He was later back in the city as an honorary member of the AL All-Star team, and threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the aforementioned gave as he received a standing ovation from his former hometown crowd.
Sadly, Sabathia's career did not get the storybook ending it deserved: Not only did the Yankees fail to make it to the World Series, but Sabathia separated his shoulder during Game 4 of the ALCS and was unable to stay in the game. As he left the mound for the last time, he received one final standing ovation from the fans in the Big Apple.
The debate now begins as to whether CC Sabathia is a Hall of Famer, and should he make it to Cooperstown his plaque will likely feature a Yankees cap. Still, the respected ace has not forgotten his roots with the Tribe.
"From Cleveland, to Milwaukee, New York, and everywhere in between, I'm so thankful to have experienced this journey with every teammate past and present," he wrote. "Thank you, Baseball."