Longtime Mariners catcher Dan Wilson to retire
The 36-year-old Wilson tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on May 4 while returning to first base after a teammate hit a fly ball against the Los Angeles Angels. He has been on the 60-day disabled list since May 6.
"The relationship between my family and the Mariners' family has been amazing," Wilson said Monday during an emotional news conference. "Our relationship is not over, just changing. I look forward to staying involved in some way, shape or form in the years to come."
The club would like to bring him back as a coach or in the front office when Wilson decides what he wants to do.
"This is the end of a generation that remade and saved baseball in Seattle," club president Chuck Armstrong said. "He's the last connection to that miracle 1995 team."
Wilson came to Seattle in a trade on Nov. 3, 1993, with right-hander Bobby Ayala in a deal that sent right-hander Erik Hanson and second baseman Bret Boone to the Reds. Under manager Lou Piniella, Wilson became Seattle's regular catcher, a job he held for 11 seasons until this spring, when he was relegated to backup duty.
Wilson was part of the Mariners' first playoff team in 1995, a club that came from 13 games back in early August to tie the California Angels for the AL West title. The Mariners beat the Angels in a one-game playoff, then defeated the New York Yankees in a memorable division series before losing in six games to Cleveland in the AL Championship Series.
"Certainly the '95 season was at the top of the list, the emotions day after day," Wilson said. "All those things we went through were things you never forget. It was just a feeling of accomplishment, coming back from so far back to tie at the end of the season."
Wilson played in 30 of the team's 34 playoff games and was the starting catcher when the Mariners clinched postseason berths in 1995, '97, 2000 and '01.
The 14-year veteran ranks in the top 10 in most of the club's offensive categories. He also is ranked first all-time in fielding percentage among American League catchers at .995 and 20th overall in games played as a catcher with 1,280.
Wilson also is committed to charity work in the Seattle community. He is the club's nominee for the 2005 Roberto Clemente Award, which recognizes community service. He and his wife Annie have four children, two of whom are adopted.
He said regardless of the injury, he and his wife already had decided this would be his final season in the big leagues.
"Now is my time to give back," he said.
Mariners manager Mike Hargrove added, "When I say Dan Wilson is one of the good guys, for me, that's the ultimate compliment. Very few of us, in all walks of life, rarely say and do the same thing. There's nothing phony about Dan Wilson. He talks the talk and walks the walk. Anytime someone like that leaves, we're all worse off for it."
Wilson has a .263 career batting average with 88 home runs, 519 RBIs and 211 doubles. His best season was 1996, when he hit .285 with 18 homers, 83 RBIs and made the All-Star team. He set the club record for batting average by a catcher at .295 in 2002. He was batting .185 with two RBIs in 10 games before his injury this season.
There is an outside chance that Wilson could play at least one more game before the season ends. He has been rehabilitating his knee for four months and it's nearly game-ready. The Mariners finish at home on the final weekend against Oakland.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press