Could a former Seattle All-Star and fan favorite "Retire as a Mariner?"

With the recent news that he will be throwing out the opening day first pitch, could former Mariners fan-favorite retire as a Mariner?
Texas Rangers v Seattle Mariners
Texas Rangers v Seattle Mariners / Stephen Brashear/GettyImages

A few players have retired with their Seattle professional teams. K.J. Wright retired as a Seahawk in 2022. Just a few days ago, Ozzie Alonso retired as a Sounder. I do not know if the Mariners would like to allow Nelson Cruz to retire this way or if Cruz would like that opportunity if offered. The team has invited Nelson, however, to throw the first pitch on Opening Day.

Retiring with a Given Team

Nelson Cruz is a good candidate, I think, for this retirement opportunity. Players sign a ceremonial one-day contract to do so. I sense that players do this when playing with a certain team was especially significant. In K.J. Wright's case, he played ten years for the Seahawks and his last year in Las Vegas. The bulk of his NFL experience was with the Seattle team.

Ozzie Alonso played ten years with Seattle before moving to Minneapolis and Atlanta for his final five years in MLS. Nelson Cruz played only four years with Seattle, so I do not know with which team he most identifies, even though he did love his time in Seattle.

Nelson Cruz in Seattle

Cruz played for the Mariners from 2015 through 2018. He was an all-star three of those years and twice won the Silver Slugger Award, first for outfield and then as a designated hitter. He played extremely well. In 2015, he hit 44 home runs and in 2016, he hit 43. His batting averages over the four years were .302, .287, .288, and .256. Cruz led the American League in RBIs in 2017 with 119.

Before the split-squad games on Tuesday, March 5, Gary Hill had a phone interview with Cruz on Seattle Sports radio, and they revisited Nelson's time in Seattle. Cruz liked T-Mobile Park from his years with the Rangers. Playing in Texas was hot. Coming to T-Mobile Park was blissful relief from the heat.

Nelson said that he fell in love with Seattle - it was like a first love. He wanted to have the fans behind him. He enjoyed playing with Felix Hernandez. He said that Hernandez was a great teammate, a good human being, and a person who cared about others.

Gary Hill said that he thought of Nelson Cruz as a hitter as well as a slugger. He was a slugger. Hill remembered a day when Cruz hit the ball out of T-Mobile Park - during batting practice. Hill said that it was too bad that exit velocity was not emphasized like it is today. He imagined that Cruz would have topped those lists.

The Seattle Mariners fans loved Nelson Cruz and he loved them. Whether or not he retires as a Mariner, he has provided fans with many happy memories. I look forward to seeing him throw the first pitch later this month to open the season on March 28th.