Mike Redmond was in Boston during the weekend, a special guest of the Red Sox at “Mike Lowell Day” – the retirement ceremony for his close friend and one-time Florida Marlins teammate in front of more than 37,000 at Fenway Park.
It was substantially more low-key in Spokane on Monday when Redmond made the end of his baseball playing career official at the age of 39 – but his memories were no less gratifying.
“I think I accomplished everything I set out to do in baseball,” Redmond said.
He almost managed that in his first major league game. On the last day of May 1998, Redmond – after sitting the first nine days after his call-up – went 3-for-3 with a home run.
And so was launched a major league career of 13 seasons that was a little improbable – Redmond was an undrafted free agent who had spent five years in the minors and was starting a sixth in Double-A, pondering whether he’d hit his ceiling. But it was also eventful. In 2003, he won a World Series with the Marlins. Six times he would bat .300 or better. And just this season, he saw his streak of errorless games come to an end at 253 – a major league record for catchers.
“For a guy who was never a power hitter, I always took a lot of pride in defense,” Redmond said.
With the Marlins and Minnesota Twins, he backed up three All-Stars – Charles Johnson, Pudge Rodriguez and Joe Mauer – which didn’t leave a lot of at-bats. Still, he leaves the game a career .287 hitter. Even as a backup, Redmond established himself as a clubhouse leader and veteran counsel.
That was why Cleveland signed him last offseason, in particular to mentor young pitcher Fausto Carmona. But though Carmona made the All-Star team, the Indians reeled out of contention and gave Redmond his release on July 16.
“Now I’m ready for the next step,” he said. “I’d love to manage in the big leagues some day, but I’m looking forward to managing or coaching or scouting or whatever there might be.”
A graduate of Gonzaga Prep and Gonzaga University, Redmond credited his hometown as a constant source of inspiration.
“I’m thankful to the people who woke up in the morning and checked the box scores to see how I did,” he said. “That kind of support always kept me going. I always wanted to be successful not only for my family, but for all my friends back in Spokane.”