By Cliff Corcoran
Edgar Renteria announced his retirement on Thursday, bringing an official end to his 16-year career (he didn’t play in 2012). A five-time All-Star and the winner of consecutive Gold Gloves and Silver Sluggers while with the Cardinals in 2002 and 2003, his two best seasons, Renteria was one of the better shortstops in baseball in his 20s, but he’ll be best remembered for his unique place in World Series history.
Renteria appeared in three Fall Classics in his career and had a prominent role in each one. In 1997, at the age of 21, his two-out single in the bottom of the 11th inning of Game 7 brought the Marlins and the state of Florida their first World Series win. In 2004, while with the Cardinals, he grounded back to the pitcher in the bottom of the ninth of Game 4 to make the final out of the Red Sox’ first world championship in 86 years. In 2010, he hit .412/.444/.765 to win World Series MVP honors as the Giants won their first World Series in 56 years and first in San Francisco.
Renteria’s Series-winning hit with the Marlins makes him one of just 10 men ever to collect a Series-ending walk-off RBI in the World Series. Of those 10, just nine got that RBI via a hit, six drove in that run in a double-elimination game, four did so in extra innings, and only one, Earl McNeely of the 1924 Washington Senators, did it later than the 11th inning. Renteria, McNeely and Gene Larkin of the 1991 Twins are the only men to have delivered a World Series-winning walk-off hit in extra innings in a decisive Game 7. Of course, none of those others also added MVP honors in another Series. He is the only man ever to make the last out of a World Series and then join the defending champions the following year. He is also one of just four players ever to get the game-winning hit in two decisive World Series games, joining Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Yogi Berra by hitting a three-run homer that accounted for all of the Giants' scoring in 2010's decisive Game 5. Altogether, Renteria hit .333/.391/.508 in 69 World Series plate appearances. By comparison, his best regular season performance was his .330/.394/.480 line for the Cardinals in 2003. Renteria will surely fall off the Hall of Fame ballot after his initial appearance in 2017, his JAWS score is only half of the standard for a Hall of Fame shortstop, but if you visit the Museum, there’s a good chance you’ll see him there anyway.