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8/31/2006 05:05:00 PM

Memorable farewells

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.
posted by sidotcom | View comments |  

91 Comments:

Posted: 5:47 PM   by Anonymous
Magic Johnson's retirement and his all-star game performance in his final season. The love that was shown by the other all-stars was unforgettable. James M
Posted: 7:18 PM   by 26rocks
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.
Posted: 7:54 PM   by Anonymous
Mike Schmidt's retirement came as a shock. He was among the HR leaders early in the season. At the time of his emotional retirement, he was 7th on the alltime HR list.
Posted: 7:56 PM   by Anonymous
Jockey Johnny Longden's last ride, winning the San Juan Capistrano Stakes at Santa Anita on George Royal. That has got to be the farewell performance to end all farewells!
Posted: 7:57 PM   by Anonymous
Babe Ruth's farewell, his voice racked by cancer, with a short time to live, in front of a crowd in the house that he built, has to be 2nd only to Sweet Lou.
Posted: 8:00 PM   by Anonymous
David Robinson, who went out on top with another NBA championship trophy with the Spurs.
Posted: 10:26 PM   by jefftheall
Aaron Fox's leaving Rose State Collge after a stellar baseball career still makes me emotional. I don't recall a dry eye in the house that day.
Posted: 11:14 PM   by Anonymous
David Robinson retiring on top with a NBA Ring is my favorite farewell. He is a true hall of famer.
Posted: 12:49 AM   by Anonymous
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.
Posted: 2:03 AM   by Anonymous
Without a doubt it was the good-bye of the "Iron Horse," Lou Gehrig, that tops them all, always.
Posted: 8:24 AM   by Anonymous
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.
Posted: 9:14 AM   by Anonymous
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.
Posted: 9:21 AM   by Anonymous
Roger Staubach...
Posted: 10:11 AM   by Anonymous
Pete Sampras' retirement going out on top by beating Andre Agassi for the 2002 US Open title. His 14th grandslam championship.

And also, though it hasn't happened yet, Andre Agassi's retirement after this year's US Open will surely go down as one of the most unforgettable retirements.
Posted: 10:13 AM   by Anonymous
Rulon Gardner's victory and later retirement from the sport during the Olympics brought wrestling back to the minds of people worldwide.
Posted: 10:13 AM   by Anonymous
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.
Posted: 1:59 PM   by R Subramanian
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!
Posted: 2:46 PM   by Anonymous
C'mon, people. Pele's "Peace, Love, Cosmos" speech ranks among the greatest farewell speeches of all time. "Say with me three times: Peace. Love. Cosmos. Peace. Love. Cosmos. Peace. Love. Cosmos."
Posted: 2:48 PM   by Anonymous
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.
Posted: 2:55 PM   by Anonymous
Jimmy V

"Don't give up, don't ever give up."

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.
Posted: 3:08 PM   by Anonymous
Bear Bryant

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.
Posted: 3:09 PM   by River Driver
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!
Posted: 3:30 PM   by Anonymous
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.
Posted: 3:45 PM   by Anonymous
Arnold Palmer. The man has done more for golf than any one.
Posted: 4:12 PM   by Anonymous
Emmitt Smith.
Posted: 6:58 PM   by Anonymous
Bobby Jones won the Grand Slam in 1930 at the age of 28 and promptly retired from championship golf.
Posted: 9:43 PM   by Anonymous
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.
Posted: 10:07 PM   by Steve
How could you possibly forget the Headbutt heard round the world by Zidane
Posted: 11:27 PM   by Anonymous
John Wooden's last game as UCLA coach in 1975. Wins last championship. 10 NCAA championships in 12 years.
Posted: 12:51 PM   by Anonymous
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.
Posted: 2:44 PM   by Jon
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.
Posted: 10:25 PM   by Anonymous
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.
Posted: 9:28 AM   by Anonymous
Absolutely, Elway's! To see John Elway,the finest football player ever, finally win not one...but two Super Bowls in a row...priceless! Great to see him go out on top too.
Posted: 2:19 PM   by Champ
Paul O'Neill, 2001 World Series, Game 5....a hero's sendoff.
Posted: 4:15 PM   by tanja
Gretzky, Sampras, Armstrong, Zidane(?)and definetly Agassi!!!
Posted: 4:25 PM   by Chanty2U
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!

Bravo for 21 years!
Posted: 4:35 PM   by Anonymous
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.
Posted: 5:16 PM   by Anonymous
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.
Posted: 5:31 PM   by Don Bonacci
When Lou Gehrig died in June 1941, I was in the 6th grade, in a New York city public school. The schools closed that afternoon, in menorary and love of this great person.
Posted: 5:55 PM   by JUICYGIRLNC
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.
Posted: 6:54 PM   by Anonymous
How about Kirby Puckett?
Posted: 7:25 PM   by Anonymous
REGGIE MILLER!
Posted: 7:50 PM   by Anonymous
1995/1996 Horse of the Year Cigar's retirement from racing, with his record of 16 wins in a row. He went out in style, with a standing ovation from a huge crown in Madison Square Garden
Posted: 7:53 PM   by Anonymous
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.
Posted: 9:00 PM   by Anonymous
Bobby Orr at the Boston Garden before an exhibition match against a Soviet club team. The standing ovation must have lasted 15-20 minutes.
Posted: 10:19 PM   by Justin Izzo
How about Willie Mays coming back to New York and being honored in 1973?
Posted: 10:55 PM   by Anonymous
I'll never forget George Brett on his hands and knees kissing home plate in his final game at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals haven't been the same since Brett retired.
Posted: 1:22 PM   by Anonymous
What about Jimmy Connors & his last US Open? It was definitely as emotionally charged as Andre Agassi's, if not more.
Posted: 1:24 PM   by nuri sabuncu
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
Posted: 4:58 PM   by Anonymous
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
Posted: 6:33 PM   by Anonymous
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.
Posted: 6:34 PM   by Anonymous
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.
Posted: 8:06 PM   by Anonymous
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.
Posted: 9:09 PM   by ABU
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.
Posted: 9:51 PM   by pnolte
Pete Sampras' retirement by beating Andre Agassi for the 2002 US Open title and thus his final grand slam championship.
Posted: 10:00 PM   by Eric
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.
Posted: 10:38 PM   by tommy boy
John Elway raising the Vince Lombardi Trophy after his last game. It's never easy leaving at the top of your game!
Posted: 10:44 PM   by Anonymous
David Robinson going out on top and on Father's Day was the best goodbye for the classiest NBA player ever!
Posted: 11:21 PM   by Anonymous
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.
Posted: 12:05 AM   by rosanne
Andre Agassi is the most gracious and beautiful athlete in the globe. He is a superstar with incredible sensitivity and modesty. Very, very special men. I love him. More than ever.

Rosanne
Posted: 12:09 AM   by Anonymous
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.
Posted: 12:30 AM   by Anonymous
Secretariat...
Posted: 6:20 AM   by Brittany
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!!!
Posted: 9:19 AM   by Anonymous
Bob Cousy's. There is a farewall that should not be forgotten.

"We love you Cous!"
Posted: 10:51 AM   by Mike
Darrell Royal and Frank Broyles retiring after the Texas-Arkansas game
Posted: 11:06 AM   by Anonymous
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.
Posted: 11:40 AM   by Anonymous
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.
Posted: 12:17 PM   by Anonymous
Bernard Hopkins moving up 15 pounds at age 41 to completely dominate the Ring Magazine & linear light heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver in his last fight.
Posted: 12:22 PM   by Anonymous
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.
Posted: 12:46 PM   by Anonymous
Reggie Miller's farewell in the game against the 76ers should be on this list. He played with the same team for two decades. As a hoosier, it was hard to watch the end of that game.
Posted: 1:00 PM   by Anonymous
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!
Posted: 1:30 PM   by Anonymous
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.
Posted: 1:33 PM   by Anonymous
Roy Hobbs takes the cake. Dramatic, legendary and symbolic all at once!
Posted: 1:37 PM   by Anonymous
Lou Gehrig's retirement leaves any and all others a very distant second.
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.
Posted: 1:54 PM   by Anonymous
Not really a retirement, but I can't remember a more emotional farewell than when Bernie Parent delivered the eulogy for Pelle Lindbergh before the Flyers first game after his death against Edmonton.
Posted: 2:02 PM   by Anonymous
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.
Posted: 2:11 PM   by Pat
Cam Neely's retirement as a Bruin. All of Boston cried. There is no denying that.
Posted: 3:01 PM   by Anonymous
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.
Posted: 3:13 PM   by Anonymous
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.
Posted: 3:53 PM   by Anonymous
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.
Posted: 4:49 PM   by Anonymous
Steve Yzerman
Posted: 4:50 PM   by Anonymous
I think one of the most touching moments was Jim Kelly's inauguration speech into the Football Hall of Fame when he paid tribute to his now late son, whom had a rare disease.
Posted: 6:09 PM   by Anonymous
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!!
Posted: 7:24 PM   by Anonymous
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.......
Posted: 7:47 AM   by Bum-bum
Andre Agassi's retirement.Hislast game at the US Open and the response from the crowd was quite emotional.
Posted: 6:58 PM   by Anonymous
Lou Gerhig, a gentleman who played as a "Gentleman". He played for the love of the game and his team mates who also played in the same manner. We are in dire need of some more just like him.
Posted: 12:41 PM   by Anonymous
Ted Williams at the All Star Game with the greats still telling his stories. Indelible.
Posted: 9:42 AM   by Anonymous
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!
Posted: 3:10 PM   by Anonymous
Jerome Bettis...all those years and no ring, but something makes him stay one more year. Gets to hold the Lombardi Trophy in his hometown! Sounds like Hollywood not real life
Posted: 6:00 PM   by Anonymous
Jimmy V- I still hear those words whne I'm down- Don't give up, don't ever give up"
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