Lefty's record: 1,252 pitching appearances

Updated: January 21, 2004, 6:36 PM ET
Associated Press

Jesse Orosco had enough.

After a record-setting career, the 46-year-old left-hander told the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday that he had decided to retire after 24 major league seasons.

"To take it a quarter-century -- I never imagined that," Orosco said during a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "It's a sad day that I have to call it quits. But it's a great day, too, for the fact I fulfilled my dream."

Orosco, who turns 47 on April 21, was the oldest player in the major leagues last season. He began his career with the New York Mets in 1979 -- some current major leaguers weren't even born yet -- and set big league records with 1,252 games pitched and 1,248 relief appearances.

He went 87-80 with 144 saves and a career ERA of 3.16 with nine teams. His greatest moment was when he struck out Boston's Marty Barrett to end Game 7 of the 1986 World Series. Orosco threw his glove into the air -- the picture still hangs in Shea Stadium -- starting the celebration of the Mets' first title since 1969.

"We didn't have anything going on in the early '80s, took our licks the first few years," Orosco said. "That was great, that was very memorable, to go from the worst to the best."

He went 2-2 with two saves and a 7.68 ERA in 65 games last season with San Diego, the New York Yankees and Minnesota.

Orosco agreed in November to a minor league contract with Arizona that called for an $800,000 salary if he was added to the 40-man roster. The decision to retire came upon him gradually over the past few weeks.

"I just started to try to get prepared and didn't have what I've had throughout my career, that excitement in me to get going," he said. "I just knew it wasn't going to happen. I tried to get myself in the gym, start throwing, and didn't find myself putting any time into it.

"I had a long talk with my wife. I told her, 'I just don't think I have it in me to get prepared this year. I'd be wasting my time and their time.' "

Orosco wants to be remembered both for the length of his career and his consistency. While others talked about him pitching into his 50s, he didn't think he'd make it that long.

"I hold the record for most games pitched, and I take pride in that," he said. "My job was to be out there every day for my manager and my team."

Orosco is looking forward to being at home this summer, spending time with his family.

"I haven't had a summer in 25 years. I think it's that time," he said. "I have a boy in high school, two girls that are playing sports."

Arizona had been looking forward to having him in camp.

"It's a shame that our young pitchers will not have the opportunity to learn from a true baseball professional," general manager Joe Garagiola Jr. said.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press