Yesterday, Bill Mueller officially retired from baseball, due to all the knee injuries he suffered throughout his Major League career. He will become an assistant to the Dodgers' general manager, Ned Colletti. I'm saddened to see Bill's career come to this premature end. He was a throughly professional player. He played the game the right way. He's the third member of the champion 2004 Red Sox to call it a career, after Curtis Leskanic (who retired after the 2004 World Series) and Pokey Reese (before the start of the 2006 season).
Back on July 25, I wrote a column about his upcoming retirement. Here it is again.
Thanks for being One Of The 25, and all the best to you in the future, Bill.
Thanks For Everything Bill
It was just two years ago yesterday that one of the memorable hits in Red Sox history took place.
The Red Sox were down, 10-9 in the bottom of the ninth, with a man on and one out against Mariano Rivera and the Yankees. Bill Mueller hit a long drive to right that landed in the Red Sox bullpen and gave the Red Sox the win, 11-10. It is generally credited to being the turn-around of the Red Sox 2004 season (but in reality it came later in August). Whenever I hear Joe Castiglione's call of the Mueller blast it still sends shivers down my spine. When I saw that the date yesterday was July 24, I immediately thought of that blast that set off a frenzy at Fenway during that magical season.
And of course, who could forget the other huge hit he got off the so-called "Greatest Closer In History" in ninth inning of Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS? I'll never forget that line shot he hit back through the middle past a sprawling Rivera to score Dave Roberts to tie up Game 4. Memories I'll treasure the rest of my life.
Now comes word that the 2006 season appears to be over for our old friend Bill, now with the Dodgers. He had yet another surgery on his bad right knee, and he's been told by doctors that the cartilage in the knee is so bad, with so little of it left, that it cannot take another major surgery. Bill Mueller may have played his final game in big-league uniform, and that really is a shame. He's an absolute professional player. He's a terrific defensive player and well as a great clutch hitter. He plays the game the right way and always carried himself with class.
I was sorry to see him leave the Red Sox, and I was pulling for him to succeed in Los Angeles. If this is the end, I wish Bill Mueller and his family all the best. Thanks for being "One of the 25", Billy. We'll never forget what you did to bring a championship to Boston. For me, July 24th will forever be "The Day Bill Mueller Hit That Huge Home Run To Beat The Yankees."