December 13, 2015

Michael Cuddyer says farewell to playing baseball on The Players’ Tribune

After suddenly announcing his retirement, Michael Cuddyer, a former member of the Twins for 11 seasons, explained his decision Saturday on The Players’ Tribune.

It’s a nice piece called “Play Hard and Dream Big” that touches on the game, his approach to it and the path to becoming a professional and professionalism — something the Twins instilled in him, he says.

On one reason for retiring:

Over the last four years, I was on the disabled list six times. I missed 150-200 games over that time span — a broken shoulder, a strained oblique, a torn-up knee, a bulging disc in my neck. I pushed through it, but the physical and emotional taxation took its toll. Part of being a professional is to know yourself and to know your limits.

On signing with the Twins out of high school:

Being from Virginia, I didn’t really know much about the Twins. I knew of Kirby Puckett and … that was just about it. I knew that at the time I was drafted in 1997, the team was not very good, to put it kindly.

On becoming a professional:

I should have remembered the pitfall of judging something before you give it a chance. From the day I got to Minnesota, I learned another important lesson about professionalism. What I didn’t know was that the Twins organization was on the rise — and the reason was because they did things the right way. From the bottom to the top.

On playing in the Twins organization:

Our lockers had to be in order, our cleats had to be clean, and our infield needed to be errorless. Professionalism off the field translated to it on the field. I remember one time (Larry Corrigan, minor league field coordinator) made me get a new glove because there was a crease in the palm that shouldn’t have been there. Everything had to be perfect. One day one of the players didn’t have his locker arranged in the right order. We came in after practice and every single locker was unpacked in a pile in the middle of the room. It took us forever to sort everything out. But it never happened again.

On playing for the Twins:

That mentality was contagious and trickled up throughout the organization. It’s one of the reasons we won six division championships in nine years. We didn’t beat ourselves. If you were watching a Twins game from the early 2000s until the end of the decade, you saw how hard we went all the time. There were lessons that as I got older and began to carry a little veteran clout, I tried to instill in younger players.

On another reason for retiring:

It’s time for my kids to develop their own dreams with their dad by their side.

On those who helped:

To the Twins, Rockies and Mets, thank you for always treating me with class and respect. Thank you to my managers and coaches both in the minor leagues and major leagues. Thank you to my teammates. Every one of you holds a special place in my heart. Thank you to all of the front office workers, PR departments, clubhouse attendants, head clubhouse guys and trainers for the wonderful relationships we formed. Thank you to all of the stadium workers and security that took care of my family while I was playing. Thank you to the fans, for loving me, celebrating me and especially for holding me accountable for times I didn’t live up to your standards.

Some reaction to Cuddyer’s announcement:

Mike Cuddyer was one of the first athletes who made me feel l could get respect as woman in the locker room. Will never forget his kindness.

ā€” Molly Knight (@molly_knight) December 12, 2015

@mcuddy23 congrats Cuddy on your career. Thank you for everything while we were teammates. Good friend and great teammate. Enjoy your fam

ā€” Brian Duensing (@BrianDuensing52) December 12, 2015

COMMENTS

Hi, Iā€™m Rolf Boone and I love the Twins.

I became a fan of the Minnesota Twins after a friendly wager in the early 1980s. I survived Ron Davis, the meltdown in Cleveland, Phil Bradley at the Kingdome and then marveled at a rising generation of stars and two World Series wins in 1987 and 1991. Brad Radke made the 1990s bearable, while Kirby Puckett’s eye injury, exit from the game and eventual death made it almost too much to bear. The new century ushered in more talent — Joe Mauer, Johan Santana, Joe Nathan, Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau — and consecutive seasons of playoff baseball, followed by consecutive seasons of losing baseball. A winning season returned in 2015. So here we are. Go Twins.