Torii Hunter fought back tears as Twins General Manager Terry Ryan began Hunter's retirement press conference with a list of the longtime Twin's accolades and career highlights.
Nineteen seasons, five All-Star appearances, nine Gold Gloves, eight trips to the postseason and the list goes on and on.
"If you want a standup guy... you're looking at him right here," Ryan said of Hunter.
Sixteen years and 132 days – that's how long Hunter played for the Twins, with Thursday marking his official goodbye to the game on the field, and a potential hello to a future, undetermined role that will allow him to keep baseball in his blood.
"This is tough for me," Hunter said, via Sporting News. "When you’re younger, you think you can play baseball forever. It’s a kids' game. Us grownups, we’re kids at heart."
Hunter will make his "transition" back into baseball – maybe in the Twins' front office or perhaps at one of the "couple" of TV networks that have approached him about becoming an analyst – in the near future. But first, he wants to spend time with his wife and family.
"I’m coming home to you, and maybe we can go to that beach we wanted to and lay out nude," Hunter laughed while thanking his wife.
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'Iron sharpens iron'
The theme of Hunter's goodbye to the game was that of a scripture, in which "iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another," he said.
Hunter credited his former managers Tom Kelly, Ron Gardenhire, Paul Molitor, Jim Leyland and Mike Scoscia, and his former teammates, including Kirby Puckett, Corey Koskie, Matt Lawton and Harmon Killebrew, among those that helped sharpen him.
Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Koskie and Kelly all attended the press conference, and Hunter admitted that seeing Morneau was a surprise.
Wanted to be like Andre Dawson
Hunter said he modeled his game after Cubs great Andre Dawson. In the end, he put up nearly identical stats while playing in two fewer seasons than Dawson.
- Dawson: .279 average, 438 HR, 1,591 RBI, 503 doubles, 2,774 hits
- Hunter: .277 average, 353 HR, 1,391 RBI, 498 doubles, 2,452 hits