Mike Schmidt, who ended a 17-year career with the Philadelphia Phillies when he unexpectedly retired Monday, threw out the ceremonial first ball before Saturday night's game and received a standing ovation from a crowd of about 40,000 at Veterans Stadium.
Schmidt, whose 548 career home runs are good for seventh place on the all-time list, said he left the game because he could no longer play up to his own expectations.The crowd applauded the third baseman for about two minutes before he began to speak and Schmidt, who was the target of Veterans Stadium boobirds earlier in his career, had warm words for Phillies' fans.
"All we can do is dream and hope God allows us to fulfill our dreams," said Schmidt, one of the best players in Phillies' history. "God fulfilled my dream.
"I thank you people for being a very, very large part of that dream. The noise you made, the great sound of approval and the ugly sounds of disapproval, are all part of a career, a single part of the whole and I thank God you were here to be part of my career and push me to the limit."
Schmidt then proceeded to the mound and threw the ball to catcher Darren Daulton. Daulton raced to the mound to hug Schmidt and the two walked off the field with their arms over each other's shoulder.
Schmidt shook the hands of several of his former teammates as he passed in front of the Philadelphia dugout, then broke down in tears after he left the field.