Yankees C.C. Sabathia gets a hero’s welcome and goodbye in Cleveland
Yankees C.C. Sabathia, who spent the first eight years of his career in Cleveland, was honored at the 90th annual All-Star Game by throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.
After 11 successful years with the Yankees, it’s hard to remember C.C. Sabathia ever wearing anything other than pinstripes. However, he was a first-round pick by the Indians in 1998 and to this day is the all-time leader in starts (125) and innings pitched (797.2) at Progressive Field.
Sabathia also had that brief, albeit memorable stop in Milwaukee in 2008, where he went 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA and league-best seven complete games and three shutouts.
One season later, he’d begin his run with the Yanks — win an AL-high 19 games and more importantly, be the ace the Bombers needed to win their 27th World Series title.
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Sabathia would go on to three consecutive All-Star appearances — giving him a total of six. And in this, his final professional season, the Indians gave him a fitting sendoff, as he was asked to throw out the ceremonial first pitch to former Indians catcher Sandy Alomar Jr.
An honorary All-Star, per the request of AL manager Alex Cora, some two months ago, Sabathia jumped at the chance to gain his seventh appearance in the Midsummer Classic, because of the host city and his three children being in attendance. As Sabathia told Ken Davidoff of the New York Post:
"“I was trying to make the team. Obviously, I ain’t got that kind of skill anymore. But to have Alex [Cora] want to bring me here and MLB go along with it, it’s just amazing. It feels good.”"
Fast-forward to the top of the ninth inning, with teammate Aroldis Chapman and his electric slider cruising, Cora sent Sabathia out to the mound for one last show of appreciation.
A standing ovation from the Cleveland faithful noted a poetic sendoff, should a return trip to the city fail to come to fruition during the playoffs.
Speaking with Gabe Laques of USA Today following the American League’s 4-3 victory, Sabathia had this to say to a city that will forever be in his heart:
"“Thank you. And I love you,” he said of his message to Clevelanders. “My one regret in my career is not winning a championship here.”"
For Yankee fans, the hope is that the Big Fella can finish his career in the Bronx the way it began — with a ring.