Sergio Romo finds incredibly touching way to thank fans in his final professional baseball appearance

Sergio Romo thanks fans after his final appearance in professional baseball. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)
Sergio Romo thanks fans after his final appearance in professional baseball. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)

Sergio Romo knew the deal from the instant he re-signed with the San Francisco Giants. The move didn't signal a comeback for the 40-year-old reliever; it merely gave him a chance to end his career in front of the fans who supported him the most.

Romo got that opportunity Monday, when he made the last professional baseball appearance of his career. Romo was called in to pitch during a spring training game at Oracle Park so Giants fans could give him one more ovation before he retired for good.

Little did those fans know, Romo would also pay tribute to them during the outing. Throughout his final spring training, Romo made a deal with every kid who asked for his autograph. If he agreed to sign their piece of memorabilia, they would have to sign his cap.

When Romo took the mound Monday, he wore the cap, now full of autographs from young Giants fans.

Romo explained the decision after the game, telling ESPN, "If this was the last hat I was going to wear in the big leagues ... I figured it would be nice to not go in there alone."

Sergio Romo makes his final Giants appearance

Romo looked like a pitcher who hadn't worked out all offseason in his final professional appearance. That's not a knock on him — he said as much when the team signed him.

He entered the contest against the Oakland Athletics in the seventh inning. He walked a batter, threw a wild pitch and gave up two singles before former Giants outfielder Hunter Pence walked out of the dugout to take Romo out of the game.

Romo walked off the field to a standing ovation. Before he reached the dugout, he took off his cap and waved it to the fans, one final acknowledgement of their support. He then shook hands and exchanged hugs with teammates in the dugout. Romo took one final curtain call and held back tears as he returned to the dugout.

Sergio Romo found unlikely success in the majors

It was unlikely for Romo to even reach the majors when he was selected by the Giants in the 28th round of the 2005 MLB Draft. Yet despite a fastball that averaged 87.5 mph, he climbed his way through the minors thanks to a devastating slider.

That slider befuddled MLB hitters for years. Romo not only made it to the majors but also excelled, posting a 2.69 ERA in his first 10 seasons, nine of which came with the Giants. He was elected to one All-Star game and won three World Series titles with the team.

His biggest moment came in 2012, as Romo closed out the Detroit Tigers to win the World Series. He froze slugger Miguel Cabrera with a fastball to end the contest.

After getting the strikeout, Romo yelled and jumped on the mound before teammates rushed him to celebrate.

The Giants celebrated that moment — and every other Romo appearance — during Monday's contest. It was a tremendous sendoff for a player who meant so much to that franchise. It might be the last time fans see Romo in a contest, but hopefully it's not the last time a team decides to pay homage to a franchise icon with this type of gesture.

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