Romo emptied the tank in ‘storybook ending' to Giants career


SAN FRANCISCO -- Sergio Romo knew he wouldn't be able to keep the emotions bottled up as he said goodbye. The Giants icon knew he would choke up, he would need moments to compose himself, and that at some point the dam would break and there would be no stopping it.

What he did not expect was that the emotional roller coaster would start during the annual Play Ball Lunch.

Romo attended with the rest of his Giants teammates on Monday morning. Officially, he was a non-roster invitee. Unofficially, he was the most popular man in the room as the organization celebrated the Junior Giants program.

The event, held on the Club Level at Oracle Park a few hours before Monday's game, concluded with a Q&A session with Gabe Kapler, Logan Webb, Michael Conforto and Wilmer Flores. But then a young man, coincidentally named Sergio, grabbed the microphone and turned toward Romo. He asked what advice he would give to a young player. Romo took a deep breath. 

"Enjoy this game as much as you can," Romo said. "You only have so much time."

The clock hit zero for Romo on Monday, but there was no sadness. This was a celebration of Romo, and true to his word, he soaked up every last second. 

When the rest of his teammates started to file out for batting practice four hours before the game, Romo stood in a hallway catching up with an endless stream of well-wishers. After a while, a team official had to gently nudge him toward his locker and joke, "You have to go warm up."

There wasn't much time for actual baseball on this day, which was filled with hugs for former teammates, pictures and autographs for fans, and conversations that Romo just couldn't seem to pull himself away from. When he finally retreated back to the clubhouse after BP, he had been chatting with anybody and everybody for more than two hours.

Romo finally took the mound at Oracle Park at 8:36 p.m. PT, and he did so with the Giants fan base right there with him. Quite literally.

He reported to Scottsdale Stadium a week ago to start getting ready, and every time a young child asked for his autograph, Romo asked them to sign his cap first. When Romo threw his first pitch Monday, James, Sebastian, Liam, Cruz, Joey and so many others were right there with him.

"I emptied the tank," Romo said. "I gave it everything I had every time. If it went well, if it went poorly, I never hung my head because I knew I gave what I had that night and I wasn't afraid. The support I've had throughout my career from my teammates, the coaches, the fan base, it was always uplifting for me and gave me fuel to be a little bit bigger than I thought I was, to do more than I thought I could.

"I had a lot of help. I had a lot of help to get there, and tonight was just another example of the type of support that I had. I'm lucky to have that support and it never wavered."

Romo received a standing ovation when he walked out to the bullpen early in the game, another when "El Mechon" started blasting through Oracle Park, and a third when Hunter Pence strolled out to the mound to pull him after 11 pitches. At first, the fans were confused, grumbling because they couldn't tell it was Pence. Romo was confused, too. 

"He signaled to the bullpen and I was like, 'This dude is taking me out!' " Romo said, laughing. "I was just barely getting started."

The box score will forever say Romo pitched one last time for the Giants after 15 MLB seasons, although it won't match the rest of his career. Romo gave up two hits and he walked the first batter he faced after home plate umpire Nic Lentz called him for two pace of play violations, the first for taking too long to warm up, a particularly petty decision given that the entire ballpark and both teams were standing and cheering for Romo as he tried to compose himself. 

"I think it's a good time for me to walk away," Romo joked later, "Because I always took my time on the mound, I'm not going to lie."

The 30,254 fans at Oracle Park would have been fine with this going on a lot longer, but Romo's goodbye won't be the end for him and the Giants. Manager Gabe Kapler and pitching coach Andrew Bailey both told Romo they would like him around this season, and since he lives in San Francisco, he plans to take them up on the offer. 

First, there is another priority. 

The comeback was hatched in the offseason when Romo informed guests at his wedding that he would be retiring. He got in touch with former Giants general manager Bobby Evans, who helped get the ball rolling and attended Monday's game as a fan to watch Romo pitch one last time. 

The current regime took care of all the details and signed Romo to a non-roster deal, but first he had to run it all past his oldest son, who was once a young child running around the clubhouse halls but is now coming up on his 18th birthday and recently celebrating the arrival of a driver's license. 

Romo had made a promise to his family that he would be more present, but his oldest son gave him the blessing to pursue one last night on the mound. Now, it's back home, and Romo said he's looking forward to spending time with his kids and being a full-time dad.

RELATED: Romo smiling through final chapter of MLB career

The whole family gathered late Monday night on the mound, where Romo took a photo with dozens wearing No. 54 jerseys. His game-worn jersey had been authenticated but was still on his back, and he wasn't sure how long it would take to gather the strength to peel it off.

As tears filled his eyes, Romo passed his thanks along to everyone who made his "storybook ending" possible. He smiled as he thought of what's next. 

"Tee time," he said. "Tomorrow at 8:15."

Download and follow the Giants Talk Podcast

Contact Us