** 11-12-2001 Retirement Speech START **
"Last January, Mr. (William) DeWitt (St. Louis owner) and I verbally agreed on a generous two-year contract extension from the Cardinal organization.
After considerable discussion with those closest to me, I have decided not to sign the extension, as I am unable to perform at a level equal to the salary the organization would be paying me. I believe I owe it to the Cardinals and the fans of St. Louis to step aside, so a talented free agent can be brought in as the final piece of what I expect can be a world championship-caliber team.
So I am walking away from the game that has provided me opportunities, experiences, memories and friendships to fill ten lifetimes.
For years I have said my motivation for playing wasn't for fame and fortune, but rather the love of competing. Baseball is a team sport and I have been lucky enough to contribute to the success of some great teams.
I want to thank the St. Louis Cardinal organization, Mr. DeWitt, Mr. (Walt) Jocketty (general manager), (manager) Tony La Russa and the thousands of Cardinal faithful for making St. Louis home for the past four years. I want to thank the Oakland A's and all of the fans in California for giving me my start, and the millions of baseball fans around the world who have inspired me to compete night in and night out."
** 11-12-2001 Retirement Speech END **
"Babe Ruth, what can you say? You are almost speechless when people put your name alongside his name. I wish I can go back in time in meet him. Obviously, he was probably the most important sports figure in the world at that time. Hopefully, someday when I pass away, I get to meet him, and then I can really find out what he was really like."
"I didn't even realize it was a grand slam (number thirty-one) because I was mentally preparing myself for Andy Benes because he struck me out the first time."
"I don't know if I want to break my own record. I think I would rather leave it as it is."
"I know it's tough. Everybody in baseball knows its tough. I'm just going to give it my best shot."
"I'm being embraced by the public, but also baseball is being embraced."
"In Spring Training, it was one of my goals to get fifty homers. Now everything is basically icing on the cake as far as what I can do to strive for, I surprise myself. It's unbelieveable."
"I sort of missed one big thing, to touch first base. I hope I didn't act foolish, but this is history."
"I study pitchers. I visualize pitches. That gives me a better chance every time I step into the box. That doesn't mean I'm going to get a hit every game, but that's one of the reasons I've come a long way as a hitter."
"I tell you what, I was so shocked because I didn't think the ball had enough to get out. It's an absolutely incredible feeling. I can honestly say I did it."
"I think back and I really feel for what he (Roger Maris) went through, for all the negative stuff that was going on in his life. I wish it didn't happen."
"I think it puts baseball back on the map as a sport. It's America's pastime and just look at everyone coming out to the ballpark. It has been an exciting year."
"I think it (record setting number seventy) will stand for a while. I know how gruelling it is to do what I have done this year. Will it be broken some day? It could be. Will I be alive? Possibly. But if I'm not playing I'll definitely be there."
"I touched Roger's (Maris) bat and held it to my heart. My bat will lie next to his. I'm damn proud of that."
"It's going to be a relief (end of season). I can stop using my mind and stop grinding. I've been grinding since day one. It's not the physical grind, it's the mental grind that's the toughest thing. I've never used my mind anymore than this year."
"I've been thinking about the record since I reached the fifty plateau. But you think about it and then you let it go because you can't waste many brain cells on hours thinking about it."
"I wish that every player could feel what I've felt in visiting ballparks. The receptions I've received, it's blown me away. It's absolutely remarkable."
"Only sixteen players have hit fifty or more homers in a season. To me, that's a very special milestone."
was a class act and I know exactly what he went through."
"Sammy Sosa's a September player, so you have to watch out for him. It's crunch time, time to make history."
"Somebody gets into September with fifty, they have a shot down the stretch to either tie, break or get close to the record."
"Some of the longest home runs I've hit, I didn't actually realize they were going that far. Everyone says, 'What does it feel like to hit the ball that far?' Actually, there's no feeling at all. I know when the ball meets the bat whether or not it's left the park. It's a nice easy thing."
"The thing I sort of get tired of hearing is if I don't hit home runs or don't get hits, that the pressure of the media is getting to me. Absolutely not. Believe me, it's not getting to me."
"The whole country has been involved in this, I think, since after the All-Star break. If people say its bringing the country together, I'm happy to bring the country together."
"This is a great thing that's happening in baseball. We don't know if it will ever happen again."
"This is a season I will never forget and I hope everybody in baseball never forgets."
"To be the first player to do it three consecutive years (fifty or more home runs), you go back through the thousands of power hitters who played this game and nobody has ever done it, and I can sit here and say I'm the first. I'm pretty proud of that."
"To say the least, I'm amazed. Hitting seventy. I've never thought about it or dreamt about it. When I got to sixty-two early in September, everybody said, 'Shoot for seventy.' I'm speechless, really. I can't believe I did it. Can you? It blows me away. Then when I came into the clubhouse after I came out of the game, they already had a seventy homers hat made!"
"What a perfect way to end the home stand, by hitting sixty-two for the city of St. Louis and all the fans. I truly wanted to do it here and I did. Thank you St. Louis."
"What he (Sammy Sosa) and I have been doing is fantastic. What we've done nobody in the game has done for thirty-seven years. I'm pretty happy with the way things have been going."
"When people put my name next to (Babe) Ruth's
name it still blows me away. I'm still in awe."
"Wouldn't it be great if we just ended up tied? I think it would be beautiful."