Detroit Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire has announced his retirement from Major League Baseball.
The announcement, made Saturday, comes with only a few games left in the season. Gardenhire managed the Tigers for three seasons, but has managed major league teams for 16 years.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the countless players and coaches that I’ve had the honor of working alongside for the last 16 seasons as manager,” Gardenhire said in a statement. “While I’m stepping away from managing, I’ll be watching this group of Tigers closely in the next few years. There’s a lot of talent on this team, and a lot coming through the farm system.”
Gardenhire, who was in the final season of his contract, cited health concerns as the reason for his sudden departure. After struggling with “a bout of food poisoning and other stomach issues” along with the overall stress that comes with the job, the 62-year-old manager said he needs to step back and take care of himself and his family.
He is also a prostate cancer survivor, MLB said.
“When you come to the ballpark and your hands are shaking and you’re stressed out all day, that’s not fun,” he said in a video news conference before Saturday night’s win over the Cleveland Indians, 5-2. “I’m going to try and get healthy and get back to the norm.”
The Tigers hired Gardenhire in October 2017 to help rebuild the team, after his success managing the Minnesota Twins for 13 seasons, according to MLB.com.
“One of the best baseball men around, we’re fortunate to have had Gardy lead our team for the past three seasons, and during this rebuilding period. He has done a great job in shaping the future successes I know our organization will see,” Tigers chairman and CEO Christopher Ilitch said in a statement.
Tigers players and fans immediately took to social media to pay tribute to the beloved manager.
“Just saying thank you to Gardy. One of my favorite humans. I’m grateful for the joy, knowledge & passion you shared with us every single day. Win or lose. — whatever is above respect. You have it,” said Daniel Norris, the team’s pitcher.
Gardenhire finished with a 1,200-1,280 overall record and the Tigers’ win over the Royals on Tuesday made him the 46th manager to reach 1,200 career wins, according to the MLB.
“Gardy is one of the best of all time. Loved talking baseball with him. Wishing him and his family all the best,” said Mark Gubicza, a commentator for the Los Angeles Angels and former MLB pitcher.
Bench coach Lloyd McClendon will manage the Tigers the remainder of the season, according to the MLB.
“Wearing this uniform has been really special. The history of this uniform and this team here is second to none,” Gardenhire said. “Very tough decision, very hard talking with the players and the staff because they’ve meant everything to me here. It’s been nothing but a pleasure managing this team, but I have to do what’s right for me.”