Kent Bids Dodgers and Baseball a Teary Goodby

Jeff Kent had trouble controlling his emotions when he officially announced his retirement at a standing room only news conference at Dodger Stadium. In attendance were Ned Colletti, Jose Vizciano and Gene Clines, who knew him with the Giants and the Dodgers. Also Don Newcombe, Dodgers minor league players, his agent Jeff Klein, his wife Dana and their four children, trainers and staff.

Colletti introduced Kent, joking that Kent was "someone we will probably never see lead a talkathon." Vice president Josh Rawitch read a statement from Giants owner Bill Neukom that includes, "We look forward to having him at AT&T Park in the coming year."

The tears welled up in Kent's eyes when the Dodgers showed a tribute video set to Green Day's "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" and spent most of the second half of the video with his head in his hands.

Kent addressed the media, saying, "I've used you, and you guys have used me" meaning that he only spoke to the media in order to communicate with his fans. "It's never been sugarcoated. It's been real."

His voice cracked when he said, "I'm tired . "I'm tired of going on road trips, leaving home and seeing my kids grown a half inch. I'm absolutely not tired of the game itself. I'll miss it. And I'll miss you (the media). And I'll miss the fans. But my time's over."

Kent said that a former teammate told him he was going to cry "like a high school girl who lost her dog." It happened, and Kent didn't expect it. "Deep down, I'm emotionally attached to the game," he explained. "I didn't anticipate it. This is my heart speaking. It's not a business anymore."

Kent said he never seriously considered playing another season even though his agent, Jeff Klein, fielded calls from various teams this winter. He said he avoided Klein's calls and didn't work out.

After a game in Arizona last year, Kent admitted he felt an tremendous amount of pain with torn cartilage in his knee while trainer Stan Conte came to his assistance. "If I'd have had a gun down there, I'd have shot myself," said Kent, who still ended up making it back by season's end.

Jeff Kent said he knew he would retire when he signed a two-year contract extension with the Dodgers. It was apparently so widely known, that his wife and friends threw a surprise retirement party for him at the end of the season in San Francisco, something that was never reported.

Kent said he wasn't bothered by the way he might be remembered because of his stand-offish persona. "I don't care about me," he said. "The game is bigger than me. That's what I loved about it. I could play the game and not worry about me."

'I leave this game proud that I have treated this game with the utmost respect. But my time's over,' he said and stepped off the dais and hugged his wife and four children.

Kent, 40, who leaves the game as its most prolific power-hitting second baseman in history and said he was at peace with walking away from the game without ever having won a World Series. His received a World Series ring from the Toronto Blue Jays, who traded him in the middle of their 1992 championship season.

Kent, the National League's most valuable player in 2000 as a member of the Giants, hit 355 of his 377 home runs as a second baseman, 74 more than Ryne Sandberg, who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2005.

Kent, who played in the College World Series with California, was selected in the 20th round of the 1989 draft. He played for the Blue Jays, the New York Mets, the Cleveland Indians and the Giants, who acquired him before the 1997 season as part of a package of unknown players for Matt  Williams. The controversial trade was later credited with turning around the franchise.

He went on to play two seasons with the Houston Astros before signing with the Dodgers in December 2004.

LA Dodgers Insider Top Stories