MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - Minnesota Twins outfielder Torii Hunter announced his retirement last week and held a news conference on Thursday to explain his decision and thank his supporters throughout his career.
He told the audience he was awake at 4 a.m. this morning, trying to jot down all the people he wanted to thank. “You can’t get everybody,” he said, but he certainly tried.
“I’ve never been in this situation. When you’re younger, you think you can play baseball forever,” he said as he began about 20 minutes worth of thank-yous. He quoted scripture, and repeated some version of Proverbs “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” He repeated that message with many of the people he thanked; those who have sharpened him.
His mother was a teacher and had to work a lot, so Hunter spent a great deal of his childhood with his grandpa, an avid Cubs fan. Young Torii wasn’t particularly interested.
“Put the football game on!” he would say. But after grandpa’s guidance, that changed.
“My granddad was teaching me a craft. I had no idea he was doing that, but he made me watch this game,” he said. “When you talk about iron sharpening iron, he did that.”
He thanked his wife for putting up with the years of travel.
“Now, I’m coming home to you, and maybe we can go to that beach we wanted to and lay out nude,” he laughed.
He thanked Paul Molitor, and said he simply had to come back to the organization and play under him.
"To come back and play for him is an honor," he said. "I want to thank you for being that iron that sharpened me.”
He thanked his fans.
“There’s nowhere in this world you’re going to get that kind of elevation, that kind of feeling,” Hunter said. “That’s what kept me going.”
Hunter hit .240 with 22 home funs in 2015, decided not to continue playing after signing a one-year contract worth $10.5 million prior to the season. He retires a five-time All-Star and a nine-time Gold Glove winner.
Hunter's major league career Twins in 1997, Hunter was a integral part of the teams division titles during the first part of the 2000s.