Full page thank you ads when professional athletes change teams or retire have become such a common occurrence in recent years that it's almost a surprise when we don't see one. With that in mind, it doesn't really matter how frequently we see them, the message and the gesture always take on an extra special meaning when it involves a long tenured veteran who has spent a memorable segment or the entirety of his career with one organization.
Such was the case when Roy Halladay and Jacoby Ellsbury took out full page ads earlier in the offseason, and the same scenario would apply with former Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Corey Hart after he recently signed a one-year deal with Seattle Mariners.
On Saturday, Hart appropriately followed suit by taking out a full page ad in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) December 21, 2013
Translating the small print:
To the people of Wisconsin and Brewers fans everywhere:
My family and I will always cherish the incredible support we have received from the Brewers fans over the past nine years, with an extra tip of the cap to Superfan Pete and the Condor Fan Club. Thank you all for making our Milwaukee experience so special. And the Brewers organization has our continued gratitude for believing in me and guiding me on my journey as a professional baseball player. (A special shout out to the coaches and training staff for taking such good care of me. I’ll miss all of you!)
The Harts are moving on to a new chapter, but a piece of hearts stays in Milwaukee. We were blessed to be part of your wonderful community for so long.
Happy holidays and best wishes for 2014!
For a little perspective, Hart had basically been in the Brewers organization since the day he graduated high school. In 2000, the Brewers selected a then 18-year-old Hart in the 11th round. He spent his formative years developing in their minor league system before eventually debuting with the big club in 2004, but didn't really carve out a regular role until 2007. It was a long road, but from that point forward he hit .277 with 143 home runs and 468 RBIs, which quickly established him as one of the more productive and popular players on the team.
Unfortunately, a knee injury wiped out Hart's entire 2013 season. That left the Brewers in a tough position when deciding how much they were willing to invest in Hart going forward. Baseball being the business it is, the aggressive Mariners swooped in and landed him at a relatively cheap $5 million.
Based on his message, Hart doesn't seem a bit bitter that Milwaukee wasn't willing to bid that high for him. In fact, it's pretty clear he not only appreciated the opportunity the Brewers afforded him, but their faith and patience as well. The special shout outs to the fans were a nice touch, too. It's a very thorough and well thought out thank you note, so here's a hat tip to you too, Mr. Hart.
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