"Special, special," Abreu said, his eyes wet and words hard to find. "The way I wanted to end it -- on the field. Thanks to all the fans for the ovation over there and my teammates, they're a part of that. It was nice. I don't think it could be better than that."
It was an emotional day and an emotional moment for Abreu, and though he says he's ready to stop being a player -- he mulled it over most of the season -- he sat at his locker for close to half an hour after the end of the game, still in full uniform. An Abreu No. 53 jersey was displayed in the clubhouse, already adorned with teammates' signatures. He accepted congratulatory words from well-wishers. He spoke again of wanting to be a coach somewhere down the line.
"It's nice to wear [the uniform] for a little bit more time," Abreu said. "As soon as I take it off, I'm never going to wear it again -- as a player. Just enjoying the moment."
Young, Abreu's replacement at first, later scored to put the Mets on top for good in their 8-3 win over the Astros to cap 2014.
Abreu, who announced Friday that this season would be his last, started in right field for the 21st time this year and the 1,942nd time in his career. He finished Sunday 1-for-2 with a walk.
Mets manager Terry Collins said he and bench coach Bob Geren didn't make any decisions regarding Abreu until Sunday morning. The pair didn't know when they would take Abreu out, but hoped he would reach base to make it easy.
"Let's get him in part of the game, see if he can get a hit. If he can get a hit, I think it's a good way to end it," Collins said. "What does he do? Get a hit. It was tremendous for him.
"We all want to do it justice."
Safe to say, mission accomplished. Abreu's final act was playing against the organization with which he got his professional start (the Astros), playing for the team against which he collected his first big league hit (the Mets), and playing under the same manager as when he was a 22-year-old September callup in 1996 (Collins).
Abreu retires a career .291 hitter with 288 homers, 1,363 RBIs and an .870 OPS.
"This kid, I saw him when he was just a young kid, a young baby," Collins recalled. "He was such a talented player, and to see the kind of man he grew into and the kind of person he grew into [means a lot].
"It's going to be difficult to emulate the career," Collins continued. "Just emulate the man."