We never thought it would happen, yet here we are. Andy Pettitte has come out of retirement and signed a $2.5 million deal with the Yankees, shocking baseball fans and the sports world in general. But this only adds to the long list of players who came out of retirement. Some have had success in doing so; and others haven’t. Here’s a look at a few legendary players who tried to come back, and well, you’ll see how they fared:
SP Roger Clemens (2004, 2006, 2007) – The king of comebacks (sorry Brett Favre), Clemens’ last start was supposed to be Game 5 of the 2003 World Series. His real last start was Game 3 of the 2007 ALDS. Un-retiring three times, pitching for the Astros from ’04-’06, and returning to baseball mid-season for the Yankees in 2007, Clemens would win 44 games and actually capture the 2005 N.L. Cy Young, posting a 1.87 ERA in 32 starts in his age 42 season. Of course he is an alleged PED-user (I personally think he’s guilty), so it’s unclear how natural and real those stats were.
2B Ryne Sandberg (1996) – Ryno was released by the Cubs right before a strike ended the 1994 season, and a divorce on top of it all made Sandberg walk away at the age of 34. Remarried, and baseball back on track with a new CBA, he would return in 1996 and hit 25 home runs and drive in 92 runs. He’d also play in 1997, hitting better average-wise but hitting just 12 home runs.
SP Jim Palmer (1991) – Retiring during the middle of the 1984 campaign, Palmer walked away from baseball with an impressive 268 wins. In fact elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1990, Palmer seriously was attempting to return. More Pettitte-esque than the others, he would sign a non-guaranteed deal with the Orioles in 1991. After pitching in two games in the spring and topping out at 75 MPH, the 45-year old decided he just didn’t have it anymore and decided to stay retired.
Of course, these three players’ results are far different from each other and far different from Pettitte’s situation. But they are well-known names, that thought it wasn’t quite time to hang it up. But besides Clemens in 2005, a lot of the guys not listed never could get back to what they were, nor be a serviceable player. I’m hoping for the best for Andy, as he’s one of my favorite Yankees of all-time, and I’m pumped about his return. However, he’ll need to defy history and age to get back to (in my book) the standards he once held as a future Hall of Famer.