Keith Foulke Retires

Sunday, February 18th, 2007 @ 1:14 pm | Sports

This was actually from a few days back, but former Red Sox closer Keith Foulke announced his retirement from baseball, prior to reporting to spring training with the Cleveland Indians.

About two years ago, I wrote that the Red Sox were lucky to have somebody like Curtis Leskanic during the 2004 season — a player who was willing to put the needs of his team ahead of his personal well-being when the team needed him the most. Leskanic never threw another professional pitch after the 2004 post-season, but he did get to go out a champion and, by all accounts, didn’t regret the decision.

With Leskanic, people had a pretty good idea that he was pitching hurt and, probably, when he shouldn’t. What we didn’t know, at the time, was that the same could be said about Keith Foulke. Over 3 days against the Yankees, Foulke pitched 5 scoreless innings as the Sox came back from down 3 games to none. He also pitched a scoreless inning between games 1 and 2 in the series and had pitched 3 innings of scoreless baseball against the Angels. In the World Series, Foulke would proceed to pitch another 5 innings of 1-run ball against the Cardinals, fielding the ball that would become the final out of the World Series.

After helping bring a championship to Boston, Foulke struggled in the 2005 and 2006 seasons, as he never really recovered from the workload he endured during the ’04 post-season. Over the winter, Foulke turned down the option year on his contract, saying he wanted to pitch closer to his family. Often, that’s code for “I’m leaving and I’m not telling you why,” but Foulke’s actions make you think he’s one of the rare professional athlete’s who simply spoke the truth — by retiring before spring training, Foulke walked away from a guaranteed $5 million which he could have received by showing up to camp and going on the disabled list.

Foulkie, thank you for everything you did while you were with the Sox. You’re definitely on the Free Beer list.

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