Michael Young retires a Ranger
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Michael Young admitted Friday that he could have played this season for the Los Angeles Dodgers, chasing that elusive championship and adding to his 2,375 career hits. But it was his three boys and the chance to spend time at his Dallas-area home with them that offered more appeal.
The 37-year-old veteran stood in front of a gaggle of Texas Rangers personnel -- from coaches and front office to clubhouse attendants -- at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Friday and officially ended his playing career.
"My time in Texas is 13 of the best years of my life," Young said, with sons Mateo (8 years old) and Emilio (4) in attendance with his wife, Cristina. Young's youngest, 1½-year-old Antonio, was not at the news conference. "It was my honor to be able to play for them [the fans] on a daily basis. I owe this community everything."
Young signaled that while he wants to take a break, he likely won't be away from the game for long. And Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said he wants to discuss having Young do something within the organization, though it's unclear what at this stage.
Dressed in a gray suit and purple tie, Young spent most of his news conference thanking people and reminiscing about some of his best career memories. It's clear that way the 2011 season ended -- two strikes away from a championship in Game 6 of the World Series only to lose the series to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games -- still bothers him.
"I know there are no rings, but that was a championship team," Young said. "They were a great team, but we were better. Flat out. I can say that now that I'm retired.
"I'm over it, but I'm not over it."
He said the 2010 season, in which the club won its first AL West title in 11 years and sent Young to the postseason for the first time in his career, was critical for the entire Rangers community.
"That was the season where I really felt like this area changed for this organization," Young said. "I think '09 the ball started rolling, but 2010 is when this turned into just a huge baseball town. Not to get Josh in trouble with that comment right there."
Rangers manager Ron Washington, who managed Young for six seasons, spoke about Young's professionalism and class.
"He was an ultimate teammate," Washington said. "What that means is that he's a person that came to the ballpark every single day and performed to the best of his ability within a team concept. That's exactly what Michael was about."
Washington said Young supported the manager constantly and set an important example for everyone in the organization.
"His attitude every single day was exemplary," Washington said. "Simply the way Michael went about his business and the professionalism he showed took them [his teammates] to a level they didn't think they had."
Young retires as one of the greatest all-time Rangers, a legacy built both on and off the field. Young played 12 full seasons in a Rangers uniform before finishing his career last season split between the Philadelphia Phillies and Dodgers.
His name is all over the club's record book. No Ranger has played in more games than Young's 1,823 in a Texas uniform. He has a franchise-best 2,230 hits, 415 doubles, 55 triples and 1,085 runs. Young was a seven-time All-Star, won the AL batting title in 2005, and finished in the top-10 of the AL MVP voting twice (2004, '11). He was the All-Star Game MVP in 2006, and won a Gold Glove at shortstop in '08.
He finished his career with a .300 average and was one of the more durable players in the league, never appearing on the disabled list and averaging 155 games played in his 12 full seasons in the majors.
Young made his big league debut later that season, but became a full-time player in late May 2001. It took Young 10 regular seasons before he experienced the postseason for the first time, grinding through the rough times in Texas while the team rebuilt its minor league system and eventually constructed a contender.
Even in the middle of a mixture of beer and champagne in the visiting clubhouse in Oakland after clinching the AL West title in 2010, Young was thankful.
"I'm glad I'm a Ranger," Young said that day. "This is where I've always wanted to be. This is the place I call home. These are the fans I'm proud to represent. This is an organization I'm proud to represent."
Young started his career at second base, but moved to shortstop in 2004 to make room for Alfonso Soriano. He slid over to third base when the club promoted Elvis Andrus up from Double-A to start at shortstop for the 2009 season. Young ended his stay in Texas with two years as the club's designated hitter and super-utility player.
The moves didn't seem to impact his bat, which was as consistent as anyone in the league. Young had more than 200 hits six times, including five straight seasons from 2003 to 2007.
He became the face of the Rangers franchise the longer he played. He was constantly representing the team with the media and signing autographs for fans. He and his wife held events for various charities and Young was visible in the community.
For now, Young will head home and spend the next few months with his kids, instead of playing games in spring training.
"I have a ton of competitive instincts that won't go away, but I get an opportunity to rechannel those things now," Young said. "It's going to be a fun next chapter. This one here was a blast."
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