Because he spent the final years of his career with Kansas City, Joe Montana didn't enjoy the final-game send-off that he would have gotten had he gone out as a 49er. Ditto Jerry Rice. Walter Payton's last game came during the strike-plagued season and Sweetness was splitting time by then. Still, we're sure there are some memorable send-offs you'd love to add to our list. We got the ball rolling with the gallery, now tell us which ones are dear to your heart.
Jim Valvano's good-bye speech at the NC State - Duke basketball game. Old Reynolds Coliseum was filled 2 hrs before the game when he took center court. He obviously was in a lot of pain when he walked to the middle, but when the spotlight came on him, he stood tall and gave his don't give up speech. Not a dry eye in the place.
Mickey Mantle and his last game in Detroit. Denny McLain threw him a pitch and he hit it out. Everyone cheered to see him go out with the big one and Detroit was going to win anyway. It was a great day.
This may not count.. but I got misty eyed in the All Star game when Ted Williams was brought out via golf cart to meet the American League All-Stars. It must have been at Fenway. To see such a great person, so old and feeble, surrounded by youthful ballplayers... very touching.
March 17, 1963, Boston Garden and the farewell ceremony for Bob Cousy. It was my first Celtic's game, and even at age 12, the goosebumps were huge. And when that leather-lunged usher yelled "we love ya Cooz!", everyone just lost it.
Tom Osborne stepping down after wiinning a Natioanl Championship in '97 and the best winning percentage (83.6%) among active Division 1-A coaches at the time of his retirement and the fifth-best of all time.
Pete Sampras, probably the greatest tennis player in the open era! Sure, maybe he didn't announce his retirement before the US Open 2002 final against Andre Agassi, but we pretty much knew that'd be the case. And what a way to finish - finalist at the US Open 2000 & 2001, and winner 2002!
Watching Andre Agassi's first & second round matches at the US Open, that's looking pretty good as well!
Sandy Koufax, He said the painkillers he needed to perform were not worth their adverse effects and that he had the rest of his life to live. He went out on top (27-9 in 1966) after the pain and the physical damage became too much and stayed out. If only every superstar could quit after painting their masterpiece.
The only farewell comparable would be Gehrig's "today I am the luckiest man on the face of the Earth" farewell speach. Both men, facing certain death, spoke with a courage and strength most mortal men never find within themselves.
He always said that if he ever stopped coaching, he would be dead within 2 months. That is just what he did, he retired from the University of Alabama with the most wins for a collegiate football coach. Two months later he passed away, he had a very memorable farewell. The city shut down, the streets were lined 4 deep waiting to show their respect as the hearst passed by. He was buried in Birmingham, which is about 60 miles from Tuscaloosa and the home of the University of Alabama. He is still alive here today, his name graces schools, streets, the football stadium and a museum.
I wept unashamedly when Ray Bourque finally won the Cup. It was very emotional when he announced his retirement. And only a few days later, Tony Gwynn of the San Diego Padres retired from baseball. I only wish he had won a World Series. What wonderful athletes!
How about Mario Lemieux's retirement in 1997. Granted he came back in 2000 to play in spectacular fashion, but Michael Jordan also came back and he made your list. Mario's retirement was annouced during the 96-97 season and he began the tour of the NHL where every city had standing ovations to see him off as the champion he was. It will always be debated whether he or Gretzky was the better player. I have nothing bad to say of Gretzky, but in my opinion Mario was tougher, more dedicated, more generous and had more heart than any professional athlete I have ever seen. Just say the name "Mario" to any hockey fan and there is no question as to who you are talking about.
Richard Petty's final race November 1992 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.The fans going nuts on his last lap and all the crews giving him high five's along pit lane.By the way this was Jeff Gordon's first Winston Cup race.
My most memorable farewell wasn't for a person, it was for a building: Tiger Stadium
I couldn't go to the game, so I stayed home from work to watch the game on TV. I am from SW Ontario, and at an age where the Tigers were the only game in town. So I spent many summer days and nights with my Dad at "The Corner".
Besides the fact the Tigers won that last game, it was a magical moment, with Ernie Harwell as the MC and many former Tigers on hand to close out the old girl.
I actually got choked up, first a little embarrased because it was over a stadium closing. But it was a place that I enjoyed watching a ball game, all the sounds, smells, etc. To this day, I really don't enjoy going to Rogers Centre. It is still a bit too sterile for me.
To see Tiger Stadium today, the state of the building would make you cry. But the memories live on.
Sampras did it right in 2002 at the US Open--it was on his terms and came after beating his longtime rival Agassi, who's now doing the same in his own way at this year's Open. It's been said many times, but it's just plain true: Tennis fans have been spoiled for two solid decades.
Tom Brennan of the University of Vermont. In his final two games as coach, he made it to the NCAA Tourney and won a first round game against U Conn. This was one of the biggest upsets of the first round and a fitting end to a remarkable career where he turned a perenial D1 loser into a team that made 3 strait tourney's.
Of course for me it is Andre's farewell - an incredible gentleman, a fans player, and in many minds, sportsmanship personified! I had the pleasure of running into him several years ago in Cincinnati at the Masters tourney ... what a special man! Andre has given all of us [tennis fans and non-fans alike] many years of himself. Watching him start losing it in the last set, 30-love - even Benjamin Becker knew he was becoming a part of history.
Cudos Andre. You are an elegant player & sportsman. I, for one, am moved by your honesty and integrity in and out of the game!
George Herman Ruth...the greatest single drawing card in the history of baseball. Although he left the game in 1935, the Babe (who was dying of throat cancer) finally received his long-overdue recognition on June 13, 1948, Yankee Stadium's 25th Anniversary Celebration day. Sportswriter W.C Heinz later recalled that when Ruth was announced to the capacity crowd, "he walked out into the cauldron of applause that he must have known better than any other man". He would pass away two months later on Aug. 16, 1948 at the age of fifty-three.
I was never so devastated than when Ryne Sandberg retired. He is why I played second base and why I for hours in the back yard tried to whirl and throw to first like he did. I sure there are greater goodbyes in sports, but when this is your idol, your hero, nothing hurts more.
A 21 year career, that's as Memorable a Farewell as you can get if you ask me. To go out with dignity and class speaks volumns for the kind of dedication Andre exhibited all through his career, but especially at the end of it. You can just look in his eyes and see the dreams of a little boy who just loved the sport and played it with everything he had. He's the best in my book! Congratulations Andrea on a GREAT career.
John Wooden's last championship team in 1975 was definitely not his most talented. However, they did represent the epitome of his teams - playing with the heart and tenacity of champions. This team barely won the semi-final game over Lousiville on a jumper by Richard Washington at the buzzer. Then Coach Wooden went into the locker room and announced his retirement. He had given this no prior thought. He just decided on the way to the post game press conference that it was finally time. With that kind of inspiration, the final was almost a forgone conclusion and it ended with Wooden's tenth championship in eleven years.
pele was one of the greatest athletes of all time he had all the ingredients of a true champion and he was a great human being he played he loved his game he loved people he was as humble as anyone could be and his farewell at the giants stadium was one of the most unforgetable events of alltime he was an athletes athlete you cannot blame people loving their own sport
As a lifetime Cowboys fan, Roger Staubach's farewell, voice breaking and fighting back tears as he thanked "the man in the funny hat." It was the first time I understood what leaving behind a game could mean to the people involved
How can anyone forget the bittersweet departure of Donnie Baseball? It broke my teenage heart that he left the Yankees without a World Series Ring. I cried and cried. And these days I sit back and watch the youngsters swing their career into motion looking like Donnie did when he was a rookie.
Reggie Miller put it best "As much as you think I've given to you guys for 18 years, I've been truly blessed to be a Pacer and a Hoosier." He said it for himself, the hometown fans and every other Hoosier who has ever retired from sports.
No one farewell is more important than the sport you follow and a persons' age at the time of the departure and the age of this moment. Ergo- they all are important and impressive to sports' fans of all ages. NY Yankee L.Gerhigs' brevity and knowledge of his future are compelling- knowing "THE LUCKIEST MAN ON EARTH" would and still does live in baseball immortality.
The greatest hockey player of all time. Robert Gordon Orr. He could play you any way he wanted to and from any position on the ice. He would skate circles around players and leave them confused. He has one of the best plus minus rateings in NHL history and did this as a defenseman.
Carl Yastrzemski from the Boston Red Sox, October 2, 1983. His trot around Fenway is legendary. As an 11 year old sitting 9 rows behind the Sox dugout that day with my dad, I will never, ever forget it.
I can't believe no one mentioned Thurman Munson's goodbye in New York. The Yankeed too the field for the National Anthem with only Munson's mask on home plate. I was only 11, but remember how emotional that was.
Definitely agree with Kirby Puckett's retirement. Other than news of his recent passing, his announcement that he'd never play again was one of the most heart wrenching moments in Minnesota sports.
"He was a leader in every sense of the word. The stories about his clubhouse presence are the stuff of baseball legend.”
"Stats can't measure his impact — best clubhouse presence I have ever seen, the superstar who never acted the part and embraced everyone from bat boys to the manager and coaches." - Ted Robinson, Twins TV announcer who worked around Kirby for six of his prime seasons.
"He's a big reason why I play the game the way I do. He taught us to play the game like it's your last." - Jacque Jones, Chicago Cubs outfielder and former Twins teammate.
“He took care of his teammates and showed us how to be leaders. He used to say, 'The way I'm treating you right now, you make sure you pass the torch.' ” - LaTroy Hawkins, former Twins teammate.
The great thing to learn from Kirby’s life as an athlete is that he led by example and treated people with great respect. He never acted like a superstar but interacted with everyone like they were the same.
my most memorable person was Mia Hamm she was was idle and still is. shes the one that would say stick to what you want to accomlish and your dreams begin! i still play soccer would would loved to be on her team. Her last olympics was amazing! Good to know that she won one last time!!!
Bear Bryant from UA. After winning the Liberty Bowl 21-15, he was carried off the field on the shoulders of his players as the winningest coach in college football. Shortly after, his death shocked the state of Alabama and the nation. I was 12 years old and my mother (an UA graduate as was her mother), brother and I drove over an hour to right outside of Birmingham just to be able to pull over on the shoulder and watch the funeral procession go by. People were lined up on interstate overpasses and on the shoulder out of their cars paying their respects. Eighteen wheelers were parked on the side of Interstate 59, the drivers out of their trucks (their livelihoods) on the side of the road with their hats in their hands. I decided that day that I would attend the University of Alabama. My daughter will begin her classes at Alabama next fall as a fourth generation attendee. It was a site to behold and one I have never forgotten even after more than 25 years. His legacy is one of class, tradition, hard work and dedication.
Andre Agassi's farewell will stay with me for a long time. In just a few sentences, he devoted his farewell to his fans, it was nice to see he understands and apreciates all who have supported him. I thank Andre back for 21 years of himself. Gretzky would rank 2nd. Two athletes with utmost class.
Reggie Miller! Indiana fans look to him for the leader of thier franchise, while as a Pistons fan I looked at him as a leader of the sport. His poise, attitude and remarkable play made him a role model and inspiration for all.
I have to agree with 26rocks Jimmy V's goodbye should have been tops on this list. Whether or not you're an N.C. State fan or even a basketball fan this was one of the all time great moments in sports!
Sampras' final match was domination over the rival that made his career that much sweeter. Beating Agassi in his final match for the US Open Championship was amazing. We can only hope to see tennis like that again.
Goalie Eddie Giacomin was the most beloved player in Rangers history when he was ignominiously placed on waivers in late October 1975 at the age of 35. The winner of the Vezina Trophy in 1971, Giacomin bled Ranger blue during his 10 years between the pipes at Madison Square Garden, and was famous for his daring forays from the crease. Just two days later, on Halloween night, the Rangers faithful got to pay their respects when the team that claimed him off waivers, the Detroit Red Wings, came to Madison Square Garden. During the national anthem, a low roar started in the rafter seats: "Ed-die, Ed-die!" By the middle of the song, the entire Garden had taken up the chant, completely drowning out the anthem. Even though he was wearing his mask, tears could be seen streaming from Giacomin's face. It was a true goosebump moment. The fans rooted for the Red Wings as if they were the home team, and Giacomin handily defeated his former team.
Jim Valvano's speech at the ESPY's was one of the finest moments a human being has ever blessed this planet with. Why do we play sports? HOPEFULLY, to end up with character, integrity, and passion. Jimmy V. showed us a victory greater than any championship or title.
Well, it hasn't happened yet, and he isnt in the same leasgue as some of these other guys, but this season when the Jets recognize Wayne Chrebet's retirement, I guanratee he'll get a standing-O from the home crowd. Being a home-grown New Yorker (L.I.), and a walk on, Chrebet never had anything "given" to him, he EARNED the fans' and teammate's respect by putting his body on the the line every game. Mr. Clutch. Last I read, he had sold the most jersey's (number 80) in Jets' history.
Paul O'Neill's retirement from the yankees a few years ago was very memorable for me, a young baseball fan of age 23. The non-stop chanting of his name and the footage of his stare...you can see in his face that he wants to continue the game, yet fall to his knees in tears. we loved him...and as one yankee fan, am damn proud to have given him such a great farewell.
I vividly remember Cal Ripken's final game. It was just by chance that I was able to go to that game and his 2nd to last game. I still get chills thinking about the night and the magic of it all. It is a difficult feeling to even explain.
REGGIE MILLER. He changed the way the shooting gaurd was played with a delicate mix of finesse and showmanship. He showed us true rivalry with Spike Lee and proved that basketball was more than a game, but was a real life drama. BOOM BABYYYYYY!!
One of the many "Anonymous" types on this said/guessed that Ted Williams appearance at an All-Star game "must have been at Fenway". He or she was quite right; the year was 1999. As for myself, I was at Fenway Park for Carl Yastrzemski's next-to-last game on the final weekend of the 1983 season, at which he did a farewell lap following said game. A misty moment for me and those with whom I attended that game, despite his retirement being a foregone conclusion by that time. And even though he didn't win it with the Bruins, Raymond Bourque's Stanley Cup (he certainly went out on top, didn't he?) drew a toast or three from me on that night in June of 2001.......
Here's two farewells that should never leave the hearts and minds of Baltimore Orioles fans (if there are any left). Rex Barney, our beloved announcer in two of the greatest stadiums in baseball (how I miss the the gleaming steel letters of ye old Memorial Stadium...another farewell you could say) and Chuck Thompson, the Hall of Fame play by play man who entranced me every game with his voice. Ain't the beer cold when you give that fan a contract!