On Friday, October 9, 2009, Mark Teixeira hit the biggest home run of his career. It was Game Two of the 2009 ALDS and earlier that night, he had a hand in sending the game into extra innings in the bottom of the ninth. He led off that inning with a single when the Yankees were down 3-1 to the Minnesota Twins, who were looking to tie the series at one, and Alex Rodriguez hit the game-tying home run in the next at-bat.
In the bottom of the 10th inning, after the Twins couldn’t score with the bases loaded and no outs, Teixeira, once again, led off. This time, he hit the fourth pitch he saw from Twins reliever Jose Mijares into left field. It bounced off the top of the concrete wall by the 318-feet marker and landed in the stands. The Yankees walked off and would go on to sweep the series, en route to the 2009 World Series.
Mark Teixeira was drafted by the Texas Rangers in 2001 and signed with the team in August of that year. He made his debut on April 1, 2003 and finished that season batting .259/.331/.480 with 26 home runs, which earned him fourth place in Rookie of the Year voting.
The following season, Teixeira was even better. He batted .281/.370/.560 with 38 home runs and 112 RBI. During the two seasons after that, in 2005 and 2006, Teixeira played in all 162 games for the Rangers. He had one of his best seasons as a major leaguer in 2005 batting .301/.379/.575 with 43 home runs and 144 RBI. Amazingly, he finished seventh in the MVP voting that season, as former teammate Alex Rodriguez won the award. Teixeira was also voted into his first All-Star game in 2005.
When 2007 arrived, the Texas Rangers were in a bit of transitional phase. After not making the playoffs for seven straight seasons, they made a deadline deal with the Atlanta Braves that sent Teixeira and Ron Mahay to Atlanta for Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison, and Beau Jones. The deal was made after Teixeira had turned down an eight-year, $140M extension from Texas.
The Braves, who were 4 1/2 games back in the NL East when the deal was made, finished the season in third and five games behind the division-winning Philadelphia Phillies.
After a very solid 2008 season split between Atlanta and Anaheim (.308/.410/.552 with 33 home runs and 121 RBI, 152 wRC+), Teixeira was a free agent. He was one of a few big stars who were up for grabs during that offseason, and until early in the afternoon on December 23, 2008, it looked as though the first baseman would be heading to the Boston Red Sox. But at the last second, the New York Yankees swooped in and signed Teixeira.
After inking Teixeira, CC Sabathia, and A.J. Burnett, the 2009 New York Yankees were expected to win the World Series. Anything less than that, and the 2008 offseason would go down as a big time bust.
Teixeira, for his part, started off slowly in 2009. He batted only .200/.367/.371 with three home runs and 10 RBI in April. People were wondering if he was feeling the effects of his big-time contract and playing on a big stage in New York, but then the calendar changed to May and Teixeira’s bat woke up. He had his best month of that season hitting .330/.391/.748 with 13 home runs and 34 RBI. He finished the season batting .292/.383/.565 and came in second in the AL MVP vote, amusingly enough behind Minnesota’s Joe Mauer; he also made the American League All-Star team for the second time in his career.
Teixeira hit 39 home runs and tied for the league lead with Carlos Pena of the Tampa Bay Rays. Teixeira had a chance at 40 long balls, but Pena’s manager, Joe Maddon, called for an intentional walk in what turned out to be Teixeira’s last at-bat of the 2009 regular season. That move backfired for the Rays when Alex Rodriguez hit a grand slam to put the Yankees up 10-2.
2009 was Teixeira’s best season as a Yankee. In subsequent years, some of his stats had taken a hit and injuries had begun to pile up, but he still had solid numbers. From 2009-2012, he averaged 148 games a season, 34 home runs and had an .863 OPS.
In 2012, Teixeira battled calf and wrist injuries, along with a cough he fought the entire season. A big hit came in 2013 when Teixeira injured his wrist while preparing to play in the World Baseball Classic. The injury, a strained wrist tendon, caused him to miss the first 53 games of the season. Teixeira made his debut on May 31 and was shut down in mid-June after experiencing wrist inflammation, and once a cortisone shot didn't alleviate the pain and discomfort, it was determined that surgery was the only option.
Teixeira returned to the Yankees in 2014, but he played in 123 games and batted just .216/.313/.398 with 22 home runs and 62 RBI. In that season, he injured his hamstring, re-injured his wrist, and even missed time after being hit on his foot with a pitch.
In 2015, Teixeira had a revival. He was healthy, he was hitting, and it looked like he'd have his first full season with the Yankees since 2012 until a fluke foul ball broke his leg in an at-bat against the Twins in mid-August. He was shut down soon after and finished 2015 with 31 home runs and 79 RBI. He batted .255/.357/.548 in 111 games.
This year has not been kind to Teixeira either, and it played a role in his decision to retire. He's currently batting .202/.292/.346 with 10 home runs and 27 RBI in 78 games. Before the season began, he told reporters that he could see himself playing five more years, but after injuries to his neck and knee, he decided 2016 would be his last season in baseball.
"As the season went on, I just realized my body can’t do it anymore. If I’m going to grind through seasons not being healthy, I’m going to do something else. I’d rather be at home with my kids than in a training room in Detroit."
During his emotional announcement on Friday, Teixeira directly addressed Yankee fans saying, "I gave you everything I had." He then paused because he was overwhelmed by his emotions and tears fell from his eyes. He soldiered on, adding, "It wasn’t always enough. But I tried my best. I’m proud to have a World Series ring with the Yankees. It’s something I’ll never forget."
And it's something Yankee fans will never forget.
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Stacey Gotsulias is a contributing writer of Beyond the Box Score. You can follow her on Twitter at @StaceGots.