Mike Mussina took a secret to the ballpark every day this season. Maybe that's why he was so successful on the mound, so jovial in the clubhouse.
From Day One of spring training, he knew this was his final year - even if it meant giving up bids for 300 wins, a World Series ring and a better shot at the Hall of Fame.
The New York Yankees pitcher walked away from baseball yesterday after his only 20-win season, a month shy of his 40th birthday with a still-potent right arm.
"I don't have any regrets with what I decided. This is the right time," Mussina said on a conference call.
"I don't think there was ever a point where I looked around and said, 'You know what, I'm going to change my mind,'" said Mussina, who pitched for the Orioles from 1991 to 2000. "It was like the last year of high school. You know it's going to end, and you enjoy the ride."
Mussina finished 270-153 with a 3.68 ERA in 18 seasons with the Orioles and Yankees. A thinking man's pitcher who relied on sharp control and did more than overpower hitters, he ranks 32nd on the career wins list and 19th in strikeouts with 2,813. He left the Orioles for a six-year, $88.5 million deal with the Yankees.
His father and brother tried to talk him out of retirement, and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman called to ask about his future. Instead, "Moose" became the first healthy pitcher to leave on his own accord after a 20-win season in more than a century.
Sandy Koufax left the Dodgers after 1966 because of elbow pain; Eddie Cicotte and Lefty Williams got tossed in the Black Sox scandal; and Henry Schmidt won 22 for Brooklyn in 1903 as a rookie, then decided to return to the Pacific Coast League.
"This is good for me," Mussina said. "This is it."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun