I was lucky to be able to play the game of baseball as long as I did. Twenty seasons is a long time. After announcing that I was going to retire following the end of the 2016 season, I knew that I would be doing a lot of things for the last time.
In a way, you could say that I had time to prepare for it all. But with a 162-game regular season, you always think you will get another chance to do something again—until you don’t.
When I hit that home run against Toronto, I didn’t think that it was going to be my last one. I was happy that I was helping my team win a game. I was happy that I was giving the fans in Boston something they wanted to see.
But I knew we had two games left and then there would be the postseason. It never crossed my mind that I had hit my last home run.
I remember the fans chanting for me; we have the best fans in the world in Boston. So it made me very happy to give them that moment and to help win the game. Our manager, John Farrell, called it a storybook finish. I recall thinking that I hope he’s right.
With two more regular season games and the playoffs, I thought for sure that I’d get another home run before I was done.
In what ended up being my final game, I thought I was going to get a chance for one of those moments. We were down by two in the bottom of the eighth with two outs and a man on first. If there was ever a time, this was it.
But they walked me. When Hanley Ramirez got that hit, Mookie scored, and I was on second and John Farrell pulled me for a pinch runner, I didn’t think it was over.
But that was it.
We went into the clubhouse after the last out and John had his moment with all of us, and I also said something to my teammates. Right after the meeting the Red Sox came and told me that the fans were expecting me, they were calling my name out there.
I walked to the mound, photographers were everywhere. It wasn’t till I looked up at the fans, listening to the roar of cheers from them... And that moment that hits you, you know you're never going to be out here with them again.
It's something that -- it kind of hit me a little bit. I'm not going to lie to you.
At that last second, I couldn't hold it no more. And that's how we feel about what we do because we love what we do.
Not because of me, not because of my person, because I don't really care about that; I really care about the fans. I really care about the emotion that they bring when you at the plate. I really care about everything that comes with it, community-wise, what we do off the field. It's the whole package. It comes with a lot of things. So, I really care about all of that.
Now that my career is over people like to ask me how I feel.
I'm happy, not just for me, not just how my career went down, but for the organization, the step that we took, from going from last place to win the Division this year. I hit my last home run that night against Toronto. Even though at the time I didn’t know it would be my last, I knew there would be many more to come after me and the best fans in the world would cheer for them just like they cheered for me.