Pour one more out for the 209 area code. Left-hander Dallas Braden, who pitched the 19th perfect game in major league history with his grandmother in attendance — and also famously told Alex Rodriguez to get off his mound — is retiring at age 30 with a bum shoulder.
Braden hasn't pitched in the majors since 2011 but said in November that he wanted to give it another shot in 2014. He just can't get healthy enough to be effective after enduring multiple surgeries. He broke the news to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle:
“There is nothing left in there, it’s just a shredded mess,” Braden said by phone. “I left my arm on the mound at the Coliseum, and I’m OK with that.”
The apex of Braden's career came during the 2010 season, when he pitched a perfect game for the Oakland Athletics against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 9 — Mother's Day. His spunky grandmother, Peggy Lindsey, was at the Oakland Coliseum that day and got to celebrate with Braden on the field. Lindsey had raised Braden since he lost his mother, Jodie Atwood, to cancer, as a teenager.
About 2 1/2 weeks earlier, Braden got into the news by standing up to A-Rod in a confrontation that might have been unnecessary, but sure was fun:
After a double play ended the inning, the 26-year-old pitcher immediately started yelling at A-Rod, who claimed he didn't know he had done anything wrong. He also claimed he didn't know Braden was talking to him at first.
"He just told me to get off his mound. I was a little surprised. I'd never quite heard that. Especially from a guy that has a handful of wins in his career ... I thought it was pretty funny actually."
"He should probably take a note from his captain over there and realize you don't cross the pitcher's mound in between an inning or during the game. I was just dumbfounded that he would let that slip his mind — being someone of such status."
"I don't care if I'm Cy Young or the 25th man on the roster, if I've got the ball in my hand and I'm on that mound, that's my mound ... He ran across the pitcher's mound foot on my rubber. No, not happening. We're not the door mat anymore."
Braden was raised in Stockton, Calif., a satellite of Oakland and part of the coveted 209 area code. Fans routinely would sit in section 209 of the Coliseum and root for Braden, who sure seemed to love his hometown — to the point of bringing a bat to an anti-violence rally this one time. Obviously he got some of that Peggy Lindsey spunk passed down.
Braden's career lasted parts of five seasons but made as many as 30 starts only once — in 2010. His final record: 26-36 with a 4.16 ERA in 79 starts. All five of his complete games and both of his shutouts (including the perfecto) came in '10. Great results for a 24th-round pick.
From here, Braden tells Slusser that he'd like to pursue coaching or broadcasting. He auditioned for Fox Sports earlier this week.
Braden has been a lot of fun for The Stew to watch. He's going to be missed. Here's to a happy retirement from pitching.
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