As one of the most decorated pitchers in MLB history, Jon Lester will retire after 16 seasons as an All-Star and three World Series titles with the Boston Red Sox.
He leaves behind a legacy for future generations to build on, but that doesn’t mean his impact has been forgotten.
Jon Lester announced his retirement after 16 seasons, three World Series titles and over $155 million in career earnings. The Red Sox pitcher will be missed by many baseball fans.
Jon Lester, a three-time World Series champion and 200-game winner, is calling it a day after a 16-year career.
Lester, 38, told ESPN that his body is no longer capable of handling the demands of a big league season. During his career, he made 30 or more starts 12 times, including 28 in his last season with the Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals.
He has five All-Star selections and a 2.51 postseason ERA in his resume.
Lester said, “It’s sort of run its course.” “Physically, it’s becoming more difficult for me.” The little issues that cropped up during the year grew into major issues that hampered your effectiveness.
“I like to think of myself as a competent self-evaluator. I don’t want anybody else to tell me that I can’t do it. ‘Thank you, it’s been enjoyable,’ I want to be able to say when I give up my jersey. That is most likely the most important determining element.”
Lester leaves a playoff record of success. With the Boston Red Sox in 2007 and 2013, he earned two World Series rings, and with the Chicago Cubs in 2016, he broke a 108-year championship drought. With appearances in the playoffs in 2008, 2009, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018, he became a regular in October.
For Lester, those memories will be the most vivid.
“I recall having a tense sensation before Game 4 of the 2007 World Series,” he remarked. “I recall being on the mound in Game 5 of a tie series versus St. Louis in 2013, when a [paper] aircraft was thrown from the upper deck and landed just behind the mound. That’s something I recall looking at.
“Then there was the upheaval of Game 7 in 2016 [when the Cubs triumphed in extra innings].”
Lester dominated with a wicked cutter and imposing demeanor on the mound in his heyday, which featured his famous look: glove lying just under his chin as he looked in for indications from the catcher.
Mark Teixeira, who, along with Evan Longoria, shares the distinction of striking out more times than anybody else (22) against Lester, remarked, “The cutter was what neutralized me.” “He’d walk outside and watch me diving over the plate, then come in with the cutter,” he said.
“He was such a bulldog because he refused to give in. He wasn’t scared to walk guys, either. He had a knack for putting together a lineup.”
Only nine contemporary left-handed pitchers have 200 wins, a.600 winning percentage, and a lifetime ERA under 4.00. Six of the other eight have already been inducted into the Hall of Fame, with the exception of CC Sabathia, who is not yet eligible.
On his choice to retire, Jon Lester says
It was the beginning of an incredible playoff run. Lester has a 1.93 ERA in 10 postseason outings from 2016 to 2018.
“I’ve never seen someone labor as hard as he did,” Ross added. “He was going to work when it was time to work. He’d make sure everyone had a nice time when it came time to play. I think that’s the highest praise I could pay him.”
Lester joined the Red Sox in 2002 and debuted in the major leagues in June 2006.
Back trouble forced Lester to the hospital late in the season, when he was diagnosed with anaplastic large T-cell lymphoma. After undergoing chemotherapy, he was able to rejoin the squad in mid-2007.
“After cancer, I was at Triple-A on a rehab assignment in Pawtucket,” Lester said. “My parents were there, and they were leaving that day or the following day to go home, and I told them they needed to alter their trip, and I told them I’d be beginning the next night in Cleveland.”
“That was one of the most memorable experiences of my professional life. It was fascinating to see their faces. When I returned to baseball, I tried not to take anything for granted and valued my time with the boys.”
Lester’s charity, NVRQT (short for “Never Quit”), was founded as a result of the experience and helps raise funds for pediatric cancer research. In his retirement, he plans to continue working with the foundation.
Lester’s experience in Boston had a lasting impact on him.
“It helps you grow up extremely quickly,” Lester remarked, “and it’s a great, awesome location to me.” “It held me to a higher standard than if I were anywhere else.”
Lester clinched the 2007 World Series with a 523-inning shutout over the Colorado Rockies in Game 4. Lester was 2-0 with a 0.59 ERA in the 2013 World Series versus St. Louis.
Former teammate Dustin Pedroia stated, “Any time he got the ball, it was a different feeling as a teammate.” “The authority he wielded, the manner in which he operated, and his will to succeed. He had a lot of cool things, but his finest gift was that he always managed to win. You can’t teach or coach anything like that. It’s a unique player who has the ability. There aren’t many of them.”
Lester was dealt to Oakland in 2014 and started a wild-card playoff game that the A’s lost before signing with the Cubs the following summer.
Lester joined with the Nationals after the 2020 season in Chicago. He went 4-1 with the Cardinals after being traded at the trade deadline, winning his 200th and last game in late September.
Lester remarked, “Playing alongside Waino [Adam Wainwright] and Yadi [Yadier Molina] was fantastic.” “Playing for that company was a fantastic experience. Every year, you have a better understanding of why they are so effective.”
The Cardinals clinched a wild-card slot, giving Lester one more shot at the playoffs. Lester understood it was time to go at the conclusion of the season, especially following a COVID-19 quarantine in 2020.
“Quarantine was the thing that helped me get through this,” Lester said. “I was at home during a time of year when I wasn’t supposed to be. That was eye-opening… When the task becomes more important than the pleasure, it’s time to rethink your situation.”
Lester said he’d explore doing some television work and wouldn’t rule out going to Cubs spring training to assist young pitchers, but full-time coaching isn’t in the cards for him. He said that he would miss many elements of the game, but that he knows he kept one promise he made to himself.
“I never wanted spectators to leave a game wondering, ‘Was the effort there?’” says the coach. Lester remarked. “I believe I’ve always given it.”
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