Grissom retires after 17 seasons

Grissom retires after 17 seasons

MESA, Ariz. -- Veteran outfielder Marquis Grissom ended what he called a "fun ride" and retired from baseball Tuesday, ending his career after 17 seasons.

"When it's time, it's time," Grissom said. "I think this is the best thing for me, at this point, to officially hang the cleats up and go home and enjoy the second half of my life and do things I've always wanted to do."

Grissom, 38, was a non-roster invitee in the Chicago Cubs camp and his decision creates an opening for Angel Pagan to make the team as a backup outfielder.

Grissom is one of seven players in Major League history to record 2,000 hits, 200 home runs and 400 stolen bases. He was fourth on the active leaders list with 429 stolen bases and is 55th on the big league list, having stolen 20 or more bases in 10 of his 17 seasons.

Grissom played nine innings on Monday for the Cubs, and was hitting .200 (8-for-40) in 17 spring games. He exits with a career .272 average, 386 doubles, 56 triples, 227 homers and 967 RBIs. He had given his children a heads up that this might be it.

"The best thing about [Monday] was I played nine innings and I felt good," Grissom said. "Do I want to do that? Do I want to put the work in? That was my biggest thing every day. Whether I was going to be an everyday player or part-time player, do I want to put the work in? And the answer was, 'No.'

"I don't want to go out and cheat myself or the organization or the young kids out there," Grissom said. "I think that's the only thing I would miss is the young guys on that team -- [Michael] Restovich, Pagan, [Ronny] Cedeno.

"I'm at peace with myself," he said. "I'm happy. I feel the whole world has been lifted off my shoulders. I don't have to do it, I don't have to commit the time. It took its toll. This is the way I want to go out."

Grissom's decision definitely caught Pagan by surprise. On Tuesday, the youngster was presented the Ron Santo/Billy Williams Rookie of the Spring Award. Just before he got on the bus to go to Peoria for the Cubs' game against Seattle, teammate Henry Blanco told Pagan that Grissom was retiring. Pagan had to wipe away tears.

"That shocked me," Pagan said. "That's my shot in the big leagues. I couldn't contain it -- I had to cry.

"He sacrificed that for a young guy -- he's a hell of a man," Pagan said. "I've never met a guy like that before in baseball."

Grissom spent a lot of time with the young players in camp like Pagan and Cedeno, talking about baserunning. He may have a future in coaching or managing.

"I wouldn't mind playing for him -- or with him," said Cubs pitcher Greg Maddux, who was a teammate of Grissom's in Atlanta.

"He's such a great human being," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "You want him to go out on his terms. Very rarely do guys get to go out on their terms. He told me it was time.

"There's a place for him in baseball," Baker said. "This guy has a lot to offer. I see how he conducted himself and treated guys who he was in competition with. That's very rare that you see a guy who's fighting for a position trying to help the Pagans, the [Felix] Pies, the [Juan] Pierres, the Restoviches. He did all he could to not only play but pass on the knowledge and wisdom he has of the game."

"I loved playing with him," Maddux said. "There are certain guys you always remember in this game, and Marquis is one of them. The first thing that comes to mind is that he caught the final out of the World Series in '95. I'm always happy when I see him run under a fly ball. First-class dude, super dude all around the board. I wish him nothing but the best. Maybe we'll see him back in the game sometime."

What was it about Grissom that made him so special?

"He's just a good guy," Maddux said. "Easy to get along with, very likable, and he played hard and played the game right. It was easy to respect what he did on the field and very easy to like him in the clubhouse. Not many guys can combine the two. He was one of the best at it."

And Grissom spent a lot of time helping the young kids who were competing for his job.

"That's Marquis. That's him," Maddux said. "That's his character. That's who he is. That's what makes him special."

Grissom is a two-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove winner, and played in three World Series. What is he most proud of?

"Accomplishments," he said. "Teammates. Managers. Coaches. The numbers I put up. The people I ran across. The media, everybody, everything. I hope I've been good to the game, because the game has been good to me.

"Myself, personally, I love baseball and everything that comes with it," he said. "I don't think I had too many bad moments in the game, on the field or off the field. It was just a journey that I took, and it was fun."

Nicknamed "Grip" and boasting an infectious laugh, Grissom credited his parents for giving him his work ethic and steering him in the right direction. Could he come back as a manager or coach?

"I'm not going to say 'no' to that," Grissom said. "I'm just going to go home and relax and do nothing. Fishing, play golf. Spend a lot of time with my kids. I mentioned to them a couple days ago that there was a chance daddy might be coming home for good, so get ready."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.