Rick Ankiel To Retire

One of the most fascinating ballplayers of his generation, Rick Ankiel, has officially retired, Cardinals broadcaster Dan McLaughlin announced on the air today (story via MLB.com's AJ Cassavell). Ankiel is hoping to stay in the game by catching on in a front office.

Ankiel is a 34-year-old, power-hitting, free-agent outfielder who was cut loose by two different clubs last year. That seemed an unlikely ending when he cracked the league at age 19 as a big-armed pitcher, announcing himself with a 3.27 ERA in 33 innings for the Cardinals. He followed that up with an outstanding rookie year, throwing 175 innings of 3.50 ERA ball, notching 10.0 K/9 against 4.6 BB/9.

Then, of course, came Ankiel's sudden and stunning meltdown on the mound during the 2000 postseason. He never recovered to regain his former promise, and seemed destined to fade into obscurity.

Things took a second, almost equally startling turn when Ankiel re-emerged as an outfielder. Returning to the bigs in August of 2007, Ankiel swatted a home run in his debut and never looked back. He ultimately logged 2,019 plate appearances, notching 74 home runs and compiling a .242/.304/.427 line. And, of course, he put his powerful arm to good use, unleashing a number of memorable throws that cut down baserunners looking to stretch an extra base.

Though he was reportedly still interested in playing as recently as February, Ankiel had not received any interest at that point. He apparently decided to hang up his spikes now, rather than waiting for another opportunity.

After his time in St. Louis, Ankiel roamed the outfield for several clubs, starting with the Royals and Braves. He played for two seasons with the Nationals before finishing his career in 2013 with the Astros and Mets. Ankiel's overall stat line does not stand out, at least until one notices that it encapsulates two separate careers. Ultimately, his remarkable story, hard-nosed play, and incredible arm ensure that he'll long be remembered as a ballplayer.

40 Responses to Rick Ankiel To Retire Leave a Reply

  1. Hills of Glenallen 1 year ago

    The end of this article is a mess, no?

    • GrilledCheese39 1 year ago

      Yes, I couldn’t follow it at all.

    • Jeff_Todd_MLBTR 1 year ago

      Apologies, was caught up in midst of site outage issues … editing now.

  2. TorturedMetsFan 1 year ago

    Best of luck to Rick, always enjoyed watching him throw out guys from the center field warning track

  3. Ivan 1 year ago

    The only player, besides Babe Ruth, to win 10+ games as a pitcher and hit 25+ homers.

    • harperhill 1 year ago

      To clarify, that’s 10+ Wins / 25+ HR in single seasons, not all-time.

      • JoshReddicksWalkupSong 1 year ago


        • harperhill 1 year ago

          Yeah, but different seasons — Ankiel had 11 wins in 2000 and 25 dingers in ’08. For the record, in 1918 Ruth had 13 Wins and 11 homers and in ’19 he had 9 wins and 29 HR. One win away from achieving this feat in the same season! Pretty sick.

      • Ivan 1 year ago

        Yup, that’s what I meant.

  4. BK 1 year ago

    it sounds silly but his playoff breakdown was the first time a young me truly understood that the human brain is dictated by forces outside of logic. it also was one of the first times I felt a true tinge of adult empathy.

    • TheGhostOfTonyBatista 1 year ago

      Yes indeed. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. How could a guy who had won pretty much every pitching award at every level he’s pitched and had a fine MLB rookie season, and was healthy on top of that, miss home plate not by a few inches but by 4-5 feet? It was kind of like Mitch Williams’ collapse after 1993 but even worse.

    • TheGhostOfTonyBatista 1 year ago

      Yes indeed. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. How could a guy who had won pretty much every pitching award at every level he’s pitched and had a fine MLB rookie season, and was healthy on top of that, miss home plate not by a few inches but by 4-5 feet? It was kind of like Mitch Williams’ collapse after 1993 but even worse.

  5. NYBravosFan10 1 year ago

    I’ll never forget that blast in the 2010 playoffs

    • Paclypse71 1 year ago

      Yeah, too bad Brooks “Buckner” Conrad negated his heroics in the next game.

      • Kevin Sheets 1 year ago

        And Brooks Conrad hit many clutch hits for the Braves. Injuries forced the Braves to use him in the field when they knew he couldnt field too well.

    • Kevin Sheets 1 year ago

      Yea i never forgot how odd it was who the heros of that game were. Glaus, whom faded as the season progressed, Farnsworth, and Ankiel….who would have thought!

  6. Amorak 1 year ago

    I really admire this guy. Have for a long time. What a great planet this would be if everybody kept their dreams alive like Rick Ankiel has done. Go in peace, Rick, and I wish you the very best in all that you do.

  7. Cole Hoppmann 1 year ago

    I will always remember him for throwing out 2 guys from the rockies with out a bounce straight to 3rd base and for diving for balls in center field and his arm as well and for pitching wild for the memphis redbirds against the nashville sounds as well

  8. Pawsdeep 1 year ago

    Very fun career to watch. Sad to see him go.
    Him gunning down Tuiuasosopo at home in the 11th to keep a game tied was one of the greatest throws ever.

  9. tenncub 1 year ago

    I saw him play as a AAA CF and was amazed at his ability to throw strikes to home plate from deep CF when he had so much trouble throwing those same strikes from 60′ 6″ only a couple of years earlier. Man what an arm!

  10. Jeffy25 1 year ago

    Pitch rick, please pitch

  11. Revery 1 year ago

    Congrats to Rick for a career that will demonstrate the qualities of perseverance for years to come.

  12. Guest 1 year ago

    hears to a great career rick! as both a pitcher and a regular outfielder in the bigs you deserve rewarding to a job well done. this is even better news for us baseball fans considering all we have to do now is wait until a rick ankiel movie preps itself to make an arrival onto the big screen. aside from that, bravo mr. ankiel! you proved a lot of people wrong in your career by making the switch, and that truly speaks volumes in the very scrutinizing league today we call the MLB.

  13. connfyoozed . 1 year ago

    If you like baseball, how can you not respect and admire Rick Ankiel’s career?

    • Kevin Bishopp 1 year ago

      His connections to HGH?

      • connfyoozed . 1 year ago

        I don’t approve of using it either… but he was investigated, and the time he was supposedly using it occurred before MLB banned it in 2005 (it was allegedly while he was trying to resurrect his pitching career in the minors). I understand and appreciate your point though, Kevin, and frankly I didn’t think of that when I wrote my comment. I do respect the fact that he managed to forge a second career without using illegal stuff.

  14. bobbie922 1 year ago

    I remember watching his first game back in the bigs as an outfielder, and man, when he hit that home run it was something special. Gonna miss watching Rick gun guys out at the plate from the warning track in dead center (okay maybe I’m exaggerating, but the guy had a cannon!).

  15. agureghian 1 year ago

    Few baseball players make it to the majors at all. This guy did it as a pitcher and a outfielder. Have a good retirement, Rick!

  16. BradyAnderson 1 year ago

    You know how there are guys when they are pitching, or stepping up to the plate, that you kind of zone out and cant remember a thing about it…Rick Ankiel wasnt that guy. A player that just made being a fan, fun.

    Shame his electricity will no longer be in real-time.

  17. Obama 1 year ago

    If you look at his stats prior to the Event it was pretty obvious that he had control issues and would not work them out. But in the end narrative triumphs over all.

  18. Daniel Morairity 1 year ago

    Rick ankiel was one one of the best pitchers before he turn into an outfielder and his batting average was actually pretty goo averaging a 2.99

  19. Cartolo Bolon 1 year ago

    I was hoping he’d pitch again later in his career, maybe at the end of a blowout or something.

  20. Cartolo Bolon 1 year ago

    I was hoping he’d pitch again later in his career, maybe at the end of a blowout or something.

  21. Zack Byam 1 year ago

    Wish Ankiel all the best of luck. He’s a great story about never giving up and I lived watching him play, especially when he was with the Nationals.

  22. Elsalvaje 1 year ago

    Wow now he’s a monster? Let’s be honest he had everything to become one of the best pitchers of his generation but he didn’t have the balls to do it, AS SIMPLE AS THAT.
    And as outfielder he was mediocre.

    • Lance Pistachio 1 year ago

      Gotta love comments like these on a retirement threat. Stay classy..

  23. kylecthomas 1 year ago

    owner of two of my favorite baseball moments ever. home run in his first game back as an outfielder, and gunning two guys at third from deep center field against the rockies.

  24. The consensus was that his pitching issues were phycological, not physical. The way he threw from the outfield would seem to confirm that. So it’s curious that Rick didn’t attempt a second comeback as a pitcher. THAT would have been fun to watch.

  25. TheGhostOfTonyBatista 1 year ago

    I think my heart sank when I read this…I guess I just never wanted to see him retire. He’s a player I always rooted for and I was hoping he’d at least get a minor league contract. Or go back to pitching, however risky that was. But kudos to him for salvaging a career that was all but over just as it was beginning. And, say what you want, hitting 43 homeruns between AAA and the Majors in your first full year as a position player after reaching MLB as a pitcher is quite remarkable. Plus, I still remember that time when he threw out 2 runners at 3rd in the same game with long throws from the center field fence; 2 strikes to 3rd. And who can forget his first homerun after making it back to St. Louis as an outfielder? Thanks for the memories Rick. Hopefully you’re happy with whatever you choose to do next.

  26. Dalton Starkey 1 year ago

    Mr. HGH himself.

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