The name Steve Pearce may not show up in many MLB record books and he may never get his number retired by a big league team or get elected to the Baseball Hall Of Fame. In fact, those last two things are certain not to happen. However, Pearce will always be a Red Sox legend because of his play in the 2018 World Series against the Dodgers which earned him series MVP honors.
Now, Pearce is calling it a career. After he let it be known late in the 2019 season that he was considering retirement and then told WEEI in December that he was "unofficially retired," the 37-year-old told the Boston sports radio station that it was official just days ago.
The timing for Pearce makes a lot of sense. After appearing in 13 seasons with 10 full years of MLB service time, he has qualified for a full pension. He also wasn't signed on with any MLB organization (it seems like he didn't actively pursue a contract as a free agent this offseason). Add in that Pearce's 2019 season was a total chore, and this all seems to paint a picture of a guy who knows when to say when. He had struggled at the plate in his final season while being limited to only 29 games before injuries ended his year. It was a tough come-down from the highs of the 2018, but it still can't take away his accomplishments.
Pearce was selected twice in the MLB Draft without signing, in 2003 by the Minnesota Twins and in 2004 by the Red Sox. He instead continued to hone his skills in college, and in the Cape Cod League, before being selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the eighth round of the 2005 draft. He finally signed, and made his big league debut in 2007.
You certainly could call Steve Pearce a journeyman, as he played for seven different MLB teams. After 5 seasons with the Pirates, Pearce went on to play for the Baltimore Orioles, Houston Astros, New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox. He had three stints with Baltimore and is one of the few players who can claim that he suited up for every team in one division.
While Pearce was never really more than a platoon player in the bigs, he carved out a pretty decent career for himself and it all culminated with his trade to Boston in 2018. The Sox needed some depth and Pearce came over and immediately delivered more than what anyone was expecting. From when he was sent over by Toronto on June 28th, to the end of the regular season, Pearce appeared in 50 games while batting .279 with 7 homers and 26 RBI. I'd say his biggest moment before the playoffs came on August 2nd, when he ripped three mammoth homers against the Yankees at Fenway Park. He had arrived.
After taking over for the injured Mitch Moreland in the playoffs, Pearce kept on hitting. Once the Fall Classic came around, he went transformed from nice, useful platoon slugger to superstar. Pearce tanked three home runs as the Sox took down the Dodgers in 5 games to cap off an extraordinary season. The best part of it all? Pearce grew up as a Red Sox fan, despite living in Lakeland, Florida. His father, Steve Sr., grew up in Rehoboth, MA and influenced his fandom. Now, Steve Jr. was a World Series MVP for Boston.
Congratulations to Steve Pearce on a great career. He overcame quite a bit of adversity and saw it pay off in the end. Boston will treat him like a hero anytime he comes back, but for now he can enjoy retirement and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers season tickets he just bought (as a lifelong Patriots fan who lives in Florida).