Napoli Announces His Retirement
Bob Toth | On 08, Dec 2018
The Party at Napoli’s is officially over. Or maybe, it’s only just beginning.
Twelve-year big leaguer Mike Napoli announced his retirement on Saturday afternoon via his social media platforms.
Napoli, who turned 37 on Halloween, missed nearly all of the 2018 season in what was his 19th professional season. After returning for a second stint in the Cleveland Indians organization late in spring training, he suffered a torn ACL and meniscus in his right knee chasing after a foul popup while playing in his eighth game of the season at Triple-A Columbus. He underwent surgery to repair the injury and missed the rest of the season.
“After much though and consideration with my family, I have decided to retire from the game of baseball,” Napoli shared via social media. “I dreamed about playing baseball since I was a little kid growing up in Hollywood, FL and I was lucky enough to get paid to play a kids game for 18 years.”
Napoli reflected on the time spent in the game, including some of his particular career highlights like his first home run, his postseason appearances, his 2012 All-Star Game appearance in Kansas City, and his “epic Championship with my Bearded Brothers in Beantown”. He spoke fondly of his opportunity to pass along lessons learned early in his career, to be “someone who always tried to keep the clubhouse atmosphere light and inclusive”, and to give back through several different charitable partners. He lastly thanked the “fans, coaches, teammates and media members” across the four teams that he played for for their support in him.
Napoli continued by acknowledging that as the window on his career closes, he intends to open another one in baseball. He closed his letter my stating his intentions on “exploring opportunities in the baseball world as I plan to continue giving back to the game that has given me so much.”
Napoli entered the pro game in 2000 when he was a 17th round draft pick by the Anaheim Angels. He reached the Majors in May of 2006 with the Halos. He spent the next 12 years playing with the Angels, Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox, and Cleveland Indians.
A catcher early in his career, hip issues forced him to move out from behind the plate and work at first base and later as a designated hitter. He found success in the Majors with a power bat and was loved for his presence in the clubhouse. He was consistently applauded for his role on the 2016 Indians, as Napoli’s veteran leadership was one of many components that helped push the Cleveland team to an unlikely run to the World Series. His numbers that season for the Tribe were some of the best of his career and came at the age of 34. He appeared in a career-high 150 games that season and set new bests for runs scored (92), hits (133), homers (34), and RBI (101 – the only time that he topped the century mark in his career). He became an instant fan favorite with the Indians for his towering home runs and the “Party at Napoli’s” t-shirts that were the must-have apparel of the summer for Tribe fans at Progressive Field.
He hit 267 home runs in his 12 seasons and was a career .246 hitter with a .346 on-base percentage.
Congratulations to Mike Napoli on a successful Major League career and best of luck to him in the next steps of his baseball journey.
Photo: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images