By JERRY BEACH
NEW YORK (AP) — Bartolo Colón wanted to say goodbye to the major leagues with the New York Mets and, of course, his home run was going to be celebrated.
Four months past his 50th birthday and five years removed from his last big league pitch, Colón was honored by the Mets on Sunday when he announced his retirement after 21 big league seasons.
“My first home was Cleveland,” Colón said through a translator during a pregame news conference, “But now I’m here with the Mets and I feel really comfortable here.”
Colón went 247-188 with a 4.12 ERA and 2,535 strikeouts in 3,461 2/3 innings. A four-time All-Star, he started his big league career with Cleveland in 1997 and won the 2005 AL Cy Young Award with the Los Angeles Angels.
He pitched for 11 big league teams but is repeatedly reminded of his batting feat. On May 7, 2006, Colón homered off the San Diego Padres’ James Shields, becoming at 42 years, 349 days the oldest player to his hit first major league homer.
“The only thing I could think about when I was running the bases was those bases were getting further and further away,” Colón said.
Colón finished with an .084 average and 11 RBIs in 299 at-bats.
“Prodigious power,” former Mets manager Terry Collins said.
Colón, who lives in New Jersey, threw out a ceremonial first pitch this May 7 and another on Sunday to former teammate Brandon Nimmo as Justin Timberlake’s “SexyBack” played on the audio system.
Colón pitched for the Mets from 2014-16, earning his final All-Star selection. Collins, who managed Colón in New York, presented the pitcher with his framed No. 40 jersey following a news conference attended by more than 20 of Colón’s family members and friends.
Among the clips shown on the scoreboard prior to Colón’s first pitch was his behind-the-back flip to throw out Miami’s Justin Bour in 2015 as well as an over-the-shoulder catch he made on a bunt pop-up by Philadelphia’s Freddy Galvis the following season.
“This guy was was a better athlete than people give him credit for,” Collins said. “Held runners, great fielder.”
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