Sport careers in general may seem like an eternity for fans watching. Many, such as myself, lived their whole childhoods watching icons like Derek Jeter and Kobe Bryant go through their respective journeys. The reality is though, most players still have another half life to live.
Sometimes it’s hard for players to adjust to being out of the limelight and hang onto their spotlight as long as they can, while others leave graciously and succeed at their second lives. Speaking of the late Bryant, he was able to transition to the next part of his life and leave a positive impact on his community.
Others try and use the opportunity to reinvent the public perception about them and become more known for the positive things they can accomplish. There are truly too many to list, but I will take a few and see what they’ve been doing since retirement.
10. Trevor Plouffe
A common theme among many retired athletes is finding a career in the media. No typical reporter or broadcaster can give a ‘been there’ perspective on the sport like a former athlete could. Plouffe played in eight seasons, most known for his time with the Minnesota Twins.
Plouffe likely wouldn’t attempt to fool anyone into believing he was a star at any point in his career, but he was able to hold his own as a solid baseball player while he did play. Regardless of whether or not he was a star, it takes true talent to play eight seasons in the MLB and hit 100 home runs during that span.
He currently provides content for Jomboy Media, where he details unique insight on parts of the game in both the past and present. He was the one to break news about baseball’s return recently. He is just getting started, but there is belief that he’s going to work up the ranks in the industry.
9. Matt Antonelli
There may be a sudden resounding “who”, but our number nine is Matt Antonelli.
Antonelli was drafted 17th overall during the 2006 MLB Draft by the San Diego Padres. At one point in time, he was polled to be the #1 second base prospect in November 2007 and #27 overall.
Unfortunately, Antonelli’s career began and ended in September 2008. He only played in 21 games, and totaled a career .193 batting average and one home run across 57 at-bats. Many, including Antonelli, may look at his short-lived major league career as a failure. However, Antonelli has been able to make the most of his baseball knowledge.
You still have to be talented and worth something to even make it to the big stage and Antonelli has provided excellent insight. He currently makes Youtube videos and is arguably one of the most interesting baseball channels on the platform. He provides stories about his own career and an exclusive perspective on all the little things fans may wonder.
In addition to this, he also became a student assistant coach. He definitely knows the road to the prosperity and could prove to be invaluable to young athletes he comes across.
8. Curtis Granderson
Curtis Granderson will be one of the more memorable former baseball players. He certainly didn’t have a Hall of Fame career, but he did have a number of memorable years with the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees. Granderson was able to smack 344 home runs during his 15-year career. Granderson was also a three-time All-Star, one-time Silver Slugger and one-time Roberto Clemente award winner.
Granderson is a special player for things beyond the baseball field. On and off the field he had class and provided athletes with a positive representation. In addition to winning the Roberto Clemente award in 2016, he was also recognized with the Marvin Miller Man of the Year award on four occasions.
Granderson is the founder of ‘Grand Kids Foundation’, which is an organization that raises money to benefit the education of children in inner-cities. After retiring last season, Granderson continues to spread positive messages on social media and looks to continue being an impact off the field.
7. Ken Griffey Jr.
Griffey was one of the biggest stars of our generation and left a legacy on the field that will never be forgotten. He smacked 630 home runs and owns a long resume. He owns 10 Gold Gloves, one MVP award, seven Silver Sluggers, 13 All-Star selections and was inducted into the 2016 Hall of Fame with the third-highest vote percentage of all time. Griffey would’ve been able to accomplish even more without the injuries troubles during parts of the second half of his career.
There are times where players with Griffey’s stature struggle to live without the limelight and find any possible ways to stay in it. However, Griffey seems to be happy whenever he’s seen with the same swagger that he showed on the baseball field.
Griffey has mostly been seen at events honoring him and has spent most his time raising his three children. Two of his kids are currently playing sports to the surprise of no one, with his son Ken Griffey III making the NFL and daughter Taryn Kennedy playing basketball for the University of Arizona.
6. John Smoltz
The playing career of Smoltz is highlighted by his time as one of arguably the most celebrated trio at the top of any pitching rotation alongside Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine.
Before the 2000 season, Smoltz was forced to have Tommy John Surgery and it seemed to be the beginning of the end for his career. However, after recovering from the devastating injury, Smoltz reverted to the bullpen in 2002. The move proved to be effective for him, as Smoltz was able to net 154 saves as a closer throughout his career and is the only pitcher in history to own over 200 wins and 150 saves.
After retiring in 2009, Smoltz added to his belief that he is capable of anything baseball-related. He currently serves as one of the top baseball analysts and serves as lead analyst alongside Joe Buck for Fox Sports. Regardless of the opinion fans may have on Smoltz as an analyst, there is no question he found another successful career for himself in his life after baseball.
Ichiro is another player that needs no introduction. Despite being 46, Ichiro is only a little over a year removed from his last game. He spent over half of his life playing professional baseball, with 18 seasons in the MLB and eight seasons spent in the NPB in Japan.
He tallied 4,367 hits during his professional career, with 3,089 of them coming from the MLB. He holds an incredibly long resume including Gold Gloves, All-Star nominations, batting titles and Silver Sluggers. In addition, he received both the Rookie of the Year and MVP award. There is no doubt Ichiro will be the first baseball player to be inducted into both the MLB’s Baseball Hall of Fame and Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame.
Ichiro retired as one of the most respected athletes in the world and currently serves as an assistant to the Seattle Mariners’ Chairman. Though it took a while, Ichiro had a graceful exit to the game of baseball after playing his last MLB game in Japan during the beginning of the 2019 season.
4. CC Sabathia
After retirement, Sabathia has committed to improving his physical health. He has expressed the desire to slim down in weight in the past during his playing career and succeeded, but regressed from the idea after the lack of weight seemed to have altered the effectiveness of his career.
After battling nagging injuries towards the end of his career, Sabathia looks healthy as ever and seems to be satisfied with what he left on the field. He is certainly a future Hall of Fame player and will be remembered as one of the best left-handed pitchers of all time.
In addition to his improving health, Sabathia currently serves as an adviser to New York Yankees’ Brian Cashman and also provides insight on his own podcast. There have been rumors that Sabathia could potentially take a seat in the commentary booth for some Yankee games in the future.
3. Chipper Jones
Jones was a life-long member of the Atlanta Braves and was easily one of the best players in franchise history. He owns a career 468 home runs to go with 2,726 hits and a career .303 batting average. He was also able to capture a ring with his team in 1995.
Jones transitioned to retirement seamlessly in 2012. Eventually, he was enshrined in Cooperstown in 2018. Besides that, Jones seems to be enjoying retirement. He pops up occasionally, but seems to be happy in spending his time with his family and hunting in his spare time. He was recently hired as a color analyst for ESPN, which is set to begin with 20 ‘Wednesday Night Baseball’ broadcasts.
Besides his successes and accolades that came after retirement, Jones has proven to be a part-time superhero as well. During a 2014 winter storm, former teammate Freddie Freeman was stuck in a traffic jam for roughly five hours. Jones wound up coming to his rescue in an ATV and pulled Freeman from the jam. His former team eventually acknowledged this with a “Chipper Rescue Freddie” bobble head night in 2016.
2. David Ortiz
There is no doubt that David Ortiz was one of the most polarizing athletes during his playing days. That is particularly true when looking at his 13 seasons with the Boston Red Sox. During his tenure, he was able to smack 541 home runs and numerous accolades. He was also able to win three World Series titles with Boston, capturing a World Series MVP in 2013. Justifiable or not, Ortiz’s successful career will lead many debates when discussing the greatest designated hitters of all time.
In retirement, many will think about the unfortunate shooting that occured in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Ortiz was shot in the back after being ambushed by a man at a bar in June 2019. After undergoing a six-hour surgery that resulted in him getting a portion of his intestines and colon removed, Ortiz thankfully survived and seems to be doing fine, despite the liver damage suffered from the situation. Ortiz wound up making an appearance at Fenway Park in September 2019 to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Looking past that unfortunate set of circumstances, Ortiz has translated his charismatic attitude on the field towards a different outlet. Ortiz signed a multi-year deal to be an analyst for Fox Sports and has been just as entertaining in his new field. There will always be critics towards any type of analysts, but there is little doubt that Ortiz is able to handle it.
1. Alex Rodriguez
Speaking of polarizing, there aren’t many more controversial figures in the sports world than Alex Rodriguez. He will always be linked to his cases on PEDs and how he handled the situation. Despite surpassing 3,000 hits and just under 700 home runs, Rodriguez may never see a Hall of Fame induction.
In August 2016, Rodriguez retired after truly limping to the finish line with a .200 batting average to go with nine home runs and 31 RBIs across 65 games. Rodriguez didn’t exactly have an unsuccessful career when you consider the accolades and an estimated $450 million in career earnings.
Shortly after retirement, Rodriguez began his new career as an analyst and has truly been able to showcase his knowledge for the game of baseball. He has also been a successful commentator, highlighted by being a regular for ESPN’s ‘Sunday Night Baseball’. He has also had insightful interviews with the game’s current stars such as Mike Trout and Nolan Arenado for the MLB Network.
Despite his controversies as an athlete, Rodriguez has reinvented himself and repaired his image in the eyes of many. He has been much more accepting of his mistakes on the field and seems to have grown up after baseball. After rumors to purchase the New York Mets, Rodriguez could be met with the challenge of translating his knowledge of the game from a player to owner.
And hey, Jennifer Lopez definitely doesn’t make things worse!