On a perfect late September night in Seattle, the moon tries to peek out from behind an overcast of clouds to catch a glimpse of The King, who made his last mound appearance in a Seattle Mariners uniform on Thursday night at T-Mobile Park.
It was a game that had it all. Emotion, passion and tears.
Félix Hernández started his final game in Seattle against the Oakland Athletics. Despite giving up three runs in the course of 5.1 innings, every moment was savored by the former CY Young winner and six-time All-Star.
An emotional Hernández kept his composure throughout the game until Mariners manager Scott Servais stepped onto the mound in the top of the sixth inning. After a few spoken words from Servais, Hernández sunk his face into his managers shoulders in an embrace. That’s when the tears began to flow down the King’s face.
“I was like ‘please don’t cry.’” Hernández said following the game, “I was walking to the bullpen and my eyes started to water down ‘please not right now, not right now.’ But it was hard not to do it, there’s a lot of emotions out there, I’ve been here 15 years…”
With 20,921 fans watching in awe and admiration, Hernández embraced his teammates in the infield before stepping off the field one final time in a Mariners uniform. He waved, he bowed, he said goodbye to the fans and an organization that watched him grow into the man and baseball player he is today.
Félix Hernández was a 19-year-old spectacle when he stepped onto the major league mound in 2005. Over his 15-year tenure with the Mariners, Hernández became one of baseball’s most explosive and feared pitchers accumulating a 169-136 record with 2,524 strikeouts and a 3.42 ERA in 419 career games.
“All this year I was playing with Seattle I was just having fun.” Hernández said, “I just really thank the organization for the opportunity when I was 16 years old, when I came out to the big leagues when I was 19. It’s a lot of different things going through my mind right now, I don’t even know what to say.”
The Seattle Mariners will end the season on the bottom of the American League West but the 2019 season was filled with many moments of solidarity and tears following the retirement of future Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki in the beginning of the season and the departure of Hernández.
“The celebration of a tremendous career here in Seattle. Can’t say enough about the King’s court.” Servais said on the fans who came out to support Hernández, “With the season we’ve had, the struggles there and kind of the direction we’re going as an organization right now with our ballclub, to have the number of people who came out to support him, unbelievable, what it says about the fanbase here in Seattle and certainly what it means to Félix. It was awesome, can’t say anything more about that. Really, really proud of everyone who came and supported him.”
The Venezuelan phenom is known for bringing an electric demeanor to the mound. One of the most notable accomplishments in his career came on a Wednesday afternoon on August 15, 2012 when he struck out 12 Tampa Bay batters to help solidify his Perfect Game at Safeco Field.
The King is set to hang up his Seattle Mariners uniform and step into the world of free agency. The 33-year-old wishes to find a new home in hopes of winning a World Series championship in another city after not having the opportunity to do so in Seattle.
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