John McDonald nails art of announcing a retirement

Rob Bradford
January 08, 2015 - 4:28 am

How do you announce your retirement after playing for 16 seasons for eight different teams? John McDonald was asking himself that very question. McDonald knew that as solid a career as the former Providence College star possessed, there would be no press conference or even press release. But he also understood that the time had come to move on, having played in 95 games, as primarily a defensive replacement, for the Angels in 2014. But during a conversation with Jay Stenhouse, the Blue Jays' media relations director, McDonald was finally able to formulate a plan. He was going to turn to Twitter, the mechanism he had no previous relationship with. It was determined that, with the help of Stenhouse, and his counterparts with the Angels and Indians, Tim Mead and Bart Swain, three teams would simultaneously release tweets at 2 p.m. Wednesday to announce the retirement.

"I was just catching up with Jay and just letting him know. We were just talking about retirement and told him I didn't know how to put it out there," said McDonald, who played with the Red Sox during their 2013 World Series run. "We were talking about different things and he mentioned something about doing with the club putting it out there. I said that I had been on so many different teams. So we talked to Bart since I came up with the Indians, and I finished my career with the Angels and I made my biggest impact with the Blue Jays. It kind of felt fitting to me that those three clubs put it out, so I talked to Bart and I talked to Tim and Jay, and it was nice for them to do that for me. "I thought about it over a long period of time. If I had people calling about big league jobs it might be a little harder. But your body lets you know what you can do and what you're capable of, and that was on the forefront of my mind. Last year I wanted a job very badly. I didn't want to stop playing. I was willing to make phone calls to get that job. I could have gone to camp with a minor league deal with no real chance to make a club. But I told myself I wasn't going to do that. I was ready for whatever was next." McDonald is now moving on. Having excelled as a co-host for our "Hot Stove Show" last season (dominating this Jonathan Papelbon interview), he is spending two days at MLB Network this week while exploring other media opportunities. But before locking in on any full-time commitments, the 40-year-old Massachusetts resident is going to spend time with his wife and two young children, while reflecting on a career that began with a base-hit in his first at-bat (July 4, 1999 against Scott Service) and finished a double in his last plate appearance (Sept. 28 off of Danny Farquhar). "I wish people could feel what I'm feeling right now, that sense of accomplishment," McDonald said. "I feel that I put an end on my career. That's it. It's over. instead of wondering what I'm going to do, now I know I'm going to find something and I'm not playing anymore. It feels really good and for the first time I can really reflect on my career for the first time."