NEW YORK — Over 14 seasons in Major League Baseball, Jay Bruce has been through it all.
He's played in multiple no-hitters, earned MVP votes, saw Ken Griffey Jr. hit his 600th home run, appeared in the postseason in five different seasons, even played a key role in Cleveland's 22-game winning streak in 2017.
Retiring from the game of baseball on Sunday, Bruce didn't hesitate when asked what moment he'll remember most from his illustrious career.
"It's gotta be the walk-off home run in Cincinnati in 2010 to clinch the division," Bruce said.
Stepping in to start the bottom of the ninth, Bruce ambushed the first pitch from Houston Astros left-hander Tim Byrdak, sending a solo home run beyond the center-field wall at Great American Ball Park.
It was the Reds' first NL Central title in 15 years, sending Cincinnati to the postseason for the first time in that span.
"The weirdest part about that is I was 23 at the time and I thought stuff like that happened all the time. I thought that was just like part of it, you know?" Bruce said, smiling. "To know that the single moment that I'm going to remember most of my career was 10 or 11 years ago now is pretty crazy and looking back, it makes me appreciate everything else more too."
Bruce announced his retirement on Sunday morning, citing his inability to produce at the level that he expects out of himself after playing everyday for much of his first 13 big-league seasons. The veteran outfielder, and first baseman in pinstripes, had just four hits through his first 10 games with the Yankees this season.
With all those special moments that have transpired along the way—accumulated over 14 years and 1,650 games in six uniforms—Bruce was emotional as he looked back, acknowledging that Sunday will be a "bittersweet" end to his baseball career.
"I've always really tried to look in the mirror and be extremely honest with myself, whether it was positive or negative," Bruce said. "Everyone stops playing baseball at some point and I have been so fortunate to have had the career that I've had, I do not take any of it for granted.
"Ultimately, I'm proud of what has happened, what I've accomplished, and I have no idea what's next, but I know that I love the game of baseball, and I'm always going to love it."
The 34-year-old's career came to a close as he sat on the bench watching New York lose their fifth game in a row. Bruce said at the beginning of spring training that he signed with the Yankees for a chance to win a championship, something he's echoed periodically ever since.
As much as he wasn't able to achieve that goal, the final item on his baseball bucket list, Bruce is at peace with hanging up his spikes for good.
"I didn't reach the top of the hill. I didn't reach the pinnacle. I didn't win that World Series. But that's okay."
- Yankees' Bats Squander Gerrit Cole's Historic Start, Drop Fifth Straight
- Yankees Show Signs of Life, But Fall Short As Losing Streak Continues
- Yankees' Gary Sánchez Day-to-Day After Taking Foul Tip Off Right Hand