Mike Napoli, who joined the Texas Rangers before the 2011 season and became a fan favorite who spent two more stints in Arlington late in his career, announced Saturday that he is retiring from baseball.
Napoli suffered a severe knee injury early last season while playing at Triple A in the Cleveland Indians organization. He also dealt with hip issues that arose after the 2012 season that forced him to stop catching and limited him to playing first base and designated hitter.
But the 37-year-old didn’t make any mention of those ailments as he announced his retirement on Twitter.
“The memories will last forever,” Napoli wrote. “My first big-league home run in May of 2006 with Los Angeles; behind the plate for the 2011 postseason with Texas and 2012 All-Star Game in Kansas City; at first base for the playoff runs with Boston in 2013 and Cleveland in 2016; and the list goes on and on.”
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He finishes his career with a .248 career average, an .811 OPS and 267 home runs over 12 seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, Rangers, Boston Red Sox and Indians. He hit 88 homers in four season with the Rangers.
Napoli became one of the most respected teammates in the game and was one of the reasons the Rangers acquired him late in 2015 and before the 2017 season. So selfless was Napoli that he played left field, even though he had never played there and was limited defensively, in 2015 to help jump-start the Rangers’ offense en route to the American League West title.
“I remember when we got him and I asked for his locker to be right next to mine,” said Rangers Hall of Famer Michael Young, who played with Napoli in 2011 and 2012. “I had a ton of respect for him when he was in Anaheim, and I wanted to get to know him as quickly as I could. We hit it off right away.
“What a great career. He has a well-earned reputation as one of the best teammates in the game, and as players that’s the best compliment we can get.”
Napoli returned on a one-year deal in 2017 and launched 29 homers despite batting only .193.
But the best season of his career came in 2011, when he batted .320 and had a 1.046 OPS in 113 games. He likely would have been the pick as World Series MVP that year had the Rangers not fallen to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games.
He was voted an All-Star starter in 2012, and he parlayed a one-year deal with Boston in 2013 into a World Series ring and a two-year $32 million contract. Along the way, he became a beloved figure in Boston for the way he partied his way shirtless down Boylston Street in the aftermath of the World Series win.
While in Cleveland, the Indians went to the World Series on the “Party at Napoli’s” rallying cry.
Napoli said in his retirement tweet that he hopes to give back to the game and will pursue opportunities to do so.
Maybe Rangers fans will eventually get a chance to chant “Nap-o-li” again.
“I love Nap,” Young said. “He’s like a brother to me. Fun-loving, but an unbelievable competitor.”