- Wallace Matthews, ESPNNewYork.com
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NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees dynasty that produced 13 American League East titles and five world championships moved another step closer to its end when Andy Pettitte announced Friday that he would retire at the conclusion of the season.
The 41-year-old left-hander, a member of all five Yankees World Series-winning teams and the pitcher with the most postseason victories in baseball history, made the announcement at a dry-eyed, 25-minute news conference at Yankee Stadium.
"Mentally and physically, I'm just done," Pettitte said before Friday night's game against the San Francisco Giants. "I've pitched this season knowing this was going to be it.
"It was a long, hard year. I couldn't be happier with my decision. I've been retired, and I know what it's going to be like. It's awesome. It's great, and I'm looking forward to it."
Pettitte said he's known since the beginning of the season that this would be his last and told manager Joe Girardi around its halfway point. In the ensuing weeks, Pettitte informed some teammates of his plans, but he had not decided to announce his retirement during the season until having lunch with Mariano Rivera, who is also retiring at the end of the season, earlier this week in Toronto.
Pettitte, who will make his final Yankee Stadium start Sunday, said he feared that announcing his retirement plans would overshadow a pregame ceremony the Yankees will have to honor Rivera that day.
"He was just so supportive of it and told me I had to announce it and that I should," Pettitte said. "He thinks it's going to make the day even better. To hear him say that, and to feel that way about it, I feel like we're connected, you know, in a sense."
Pettitte, Rivera and Derek Jeter have been Yankees teammates since 1995, coming up through the organization's farm system together. Now, with Pettitte and Rivera about to retire and Jeter's future uncertain because of recurring problems related to the broken ankle he suffered in the 2012 AL Championship Series, Pettitte said he sensed that an era of Yankees baseball was ending.
"We've had a great run here," Pettitte said. "Part of me coming back was to try to do this run again with the group of guys that we had here, and it's starting to get toward the end of that. This group, we've kind of had our run here. But it just feels right, like my time here is done. My run is over."
Pettitte had retired after the 2010 season, but it turned out to be short-lived. After sitting out one year, Pettitte returned in 2012 and went 5-4 with a 2.87 ERA in a season shortened when he suffered a broken leg after being hit by a batted ball in his ninth start of the season.
If not for that injury, Pettitte said, he would not have returned in 2013. Now, having plowed through a somewhat unsatisfying season -- Pettitte, who has never had a losing season, is 10-10 with a 3.93 ERA and the Yankees are on the verge of missing the playoffs for just the third time since his rookie season -- he said the time was right for a permanent retirement.
"I don't make rash decisions," he said. "Like I said, I know I'm done. I knew it coming in. There was nothing this season, going through this season, that has changed my mind."
Pettitte will make two more starts -- Sunday afternoon at home and next Friday in Houston, where he spent the only three of his 18 major league seasons that were not with the Yankees.
Pettitte is a career 255-152 with a 3.86 ERA. His 208 wins as a Yankee are third on the team's all-time list, behind Hall of Famers Whitey Ford (236) and Red Ruffing (231). Earlier this season, Pettitte became the Yankees' all-time strikeout leader, eclipsing Ford's total of 1,957.
But it is in October when Pettitte truly has shined. His 19 postseason victories are the most in baseball history, and in 2009, the last time the Yankees won the World Series, Pettitte was the winning pitcher in the deciding game of all three playoff series.
"The Yankees and the organization and the guys in that room are losing a great teammate and a great competitor," Girardi said. "I can think of so many times that the competitiveness of AP has come out in what he's done, and it's been a great example for everyone around him."
Girardi recalled a two-game series in Baltimore in 1996 when Pettitte was knocked out early in the first game but came back the next day to finish, and get the win, in a game that went 15 innings.
"To me, that game has always been a trademark of Andy," Girardi said. "And as much as you would like to bottle what Andy does, it just doesn't fit every man's personality."
Pettitte chose winning his first championship in 1996 as his favorite Yankees memory and called his admission of human growth hormone use in 2008 as his one regret.
"I hate that any young person or whatever would ever think that I was trying to do something to cheat this game or to cheat other players or whatever," Pettitte said. "You never think that was the right thing to do or anything like that.
"I know my heart and I'll tell you I've never tried to cheat this game. I've never tried to do anything to cheat this game. I've never tried to cheat anything in my life."
Girardi said he believed Pettitte's impending retirement would have no effect on his effort in his final two starts as the Yankees continue to battle for the final AL wild-card spot.
"Andy's been watching video of San Francisco the last couple of days," Girardi said, "and I'm sure Andy's right in the video room right now. Or he's stretching, playing his catch or doing his flat ground before he's going to pitch on Sunday, so it won't get in his way."
Pettitte said that although he was determined never to pitch again after this season, he has not given up on pitching in one more October.
"I am completely just focused on ball right now," he said. "I know all the guys in that room expected to win a championship and we felt going into the season we had the team and the power to do that, so it's always frustrating whenever it looks like or you feel like it might not be able to happen. But there's still life here, and we're going to play as hard as we can and hopefully we can pull this thing off and get into the postseason."