Lou Piniella had planned to retire at season’s end, but once his intention became public, the play of the Chicago Cubs team he managed turned pathetic, so Piniella moved up the target date. He walked away from the game a bit early, calling it a career on Aug. 22, in part, he said, because of the failing health of his mother. He was the first man in uniform to officially call it quits in 2010, but he won’t be the last. There are others who, on the final day of this season, will be taking off their uniform for the final time as well.
Manny Ramirez, DH, Chicago White Sox
Once one of the most feared hitters in the game, Ramirez has become a sad caricature of himself. Questionable defensively throughout his career, he's become a sad joke when he's in the field, and at the plate he no longer creates fear for the opposition. He's allowed himself to get out of shape and would rather wear a chip on his shoulder than look in a mirror. It’s too late now to turn back the pages and think there's any chance to revitalizing his career. Instead of embarrassing himself anymore, Ramirez would be smart to announce his retirement instead of having it all end with his release.
Trevor Hoffman, RP, Milwaukee Brewers
Baseball’s all-time save leader, Hoffman needed just nine saves to reach the magical 600 level when the season started. He finally reached the milestone in early September, which in itself was a sign he faces a decision. Hoffman's said he won’t address retirement until after the year, but indications are the Brewers won’t pick up the option in his contract, and he isn’t likely to want to have to go somewhere else and re-establish his career at the age of 43. He felt shunned two years ago by San Diego, where he pitched from June 1993 through 2008, and was determined to prove he still had something left. One of the most congenial people to ever play the game, Hoffman did that, and then some. Now he can easily move to the next phase of his life.
Mike Lowell, 3B, Boston Red Sox
A lingering hip problem that's haunted Lowell all three years of his current contract with the Red Sox has finally forced Lowell to decide to call it a career, which is fine with Boston, which signed Adrian Beltre to take over at third base during the offseason. The Sox had hoped to trade him last winter and thought they had a deal with Texas, but Lowell failed his physical and subsequently underwent thumb surgery. He was used sparingly – when he was on the active roster – this season until first baseman Kevin Youkilis was lost for the season and Lowell became the primary first baseman in August, only to find himself sharing the job with Lars Anderson when rosters expanded in September.
Wayne Terwilliger, First Base Coach, Fort Worth Cats
At the age of 85, and after 62 years in baseball, Terwilliger says it’s time for him to learn to play golf. He spent the last eight years with the independent Cats, the first three as the team’s manager and last five as a coach. A former second baseman who played with the Cubs, Dodgers, Giants, Senators and A’s, "Twig’’ managed minor league teams to a 1,224-1,089 record and spent 19 years as a big-league coach, beginning with Ted Williams with the Washington Senators. He also coached that franchise after it moved to Texas and was on the staff of Tom Kelly in Minnesota for nine years, including the world championship seasons of 1987 and 1991.
Jerry Crawford, MLB Umpire
The son of the former umpire Shag Crawford and brother of NBA referee Joey Crawford, Jerry, 63, has spent 34 years in the big leagues, the last 23 as a crew chief. He worked a record 12 LCS along with four Division Series and five World Series. His father worked the first game at Philadelphia’s Veteran Stadium in 1971, and Jerry, a native of Philadelphia, worked the final game at the Vet in addition to the first game at Philadelphia’s new Citizens National Bank. Crawford hasn't announced his intentions to call it quits, but there's a feeling among his peers that he's ready to step aside.
Brad Ausmus, C, Los Angeles Dodgers
Back in July 1993, when Ausmus was in the minor leagues, then Colorado general manager Bob Gebhard dealt him to San Diego because he didn’t want Ausmus to block the development of catching prospect Jayhawk Owens. Owens wound up appearing in 130 big-league games. Ausmus? At the age of 41, after 17 years in the big leagues and having been behind the plate for 1,970 games, Ausmus has decided it’s time for a new direction. He’ll be back in uniform. He'll be on the fast track to a managerial job and could wind up on a big-league coaching staff next year, possibly Arizona, where he'd be reunited with his former San Diego boss, Kevin Towers.
Joe Torre, Manager, Los Angeles Dodgers
Torre made it official last week, and his hand-picked successor, Don Mattingly, was named to replace him. Torre's turned a mediocre career in which he was fired in by the New York Mets, Atlanta and St. Louis into a Hall of Fame effort thanks to his success with the Yankees and Dodgers. At the age of 70 and fifth on the all-time win list, it's a good time to step aside, although it’s not out of the question he won’t be lured back into the dugout if the money is right, and both the Mets and Cardinals (if Tony LaRussa decides to bolt back to the White Sox) are possibilities.
Cito Gaston, Manager, Toronto Blue Jays
A coach for Bobby Cox in Toronto who initially replaced his mentor as the Blue Jays manager, and one who filled up the lineup cards when Toronto became the last team to win back-to-back world championships in 1992-93, Gaston's calling it a career after two stints and 12 years as manager in Toronto. Fired by the Blue Jays in 1997, his inability to get a second managerial shot despite his success in Toronto was a key factor in his returning to the Jays in 2008. There was no championship in his return, but there's been three years of quality improvement, allowing Gaston to walk away feeling he's helped get the franchise headed back in the right direction.
Bobby Cox, Manager, Atlanta Braves
At the age of 69, and with 29 years of managerial experience, Cox is ready for a slower pace. He announced at the end of last season this would be his last year, and the Braves have responded by heading into the final days of the season in position to provide him with a 16th postseason appearance during his managerial career. In his second tour with Atlanta (he followed up guiding Toronto the first division title in its history in 1985) Cox went back to the Braves as a general manager who laid the ground work for a franchise that won a professional sports record 14 consecutive division titles during his managerial reign.
Billy Wagner, RP, Atlanta Braves
Wagner has $6.5 million to lure him back for 2011, his option for next year having vested when he made his 50th appearance. He ranks among the NL leaders with 35 saves, and his 1.43 ERA is lower than any other closer in the NL. Wagner, however, is 38, and he said before this season he signed with Atlanta because he wanted to play his final year for manager Bobby Cox. Despite his success this year, he hasn’t changed his mind. "I’m retiring,’’ Wagner reiterated recently. "I don’t know how to say it in a politically correct way. … Until I don’t show up next year, nobody is going to believe me. Brett Favre (messed) it up for everybody.’’ Believe Wagner.