10 of MLB's biggest player-team reunions

It’s always nice to see a homecoming for a franchise icon, and through MLB history, plenty of players have returned to the teams where they became stars.

MLB.com is taking a look back at these reunions, highlighting some of the most prominent players who were, in fact, able to go home again.

It’s always nice to see a homecoming for a franchise icon, and through MLB history, plenty of players have returned to the teams where they became stars.

MLB.com is taking a look back at these reunions, highlighting some of the most prominent players who were, in fact, able to go home again.

Only players who returned to an old team for the final stage of their careers are included here. There are others who, after their homecomings, went on to play for other teams. Those players — Rickey Henderson with the A’s, Greg Maddux with the Cubs, Tim Raines with the Expos, Tom Seaver with the Mets, Jim Thome with the Indians and Phillies and many more — aren’t included.

Here are 10 of MLB’s most memorable player-team reunions.

Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners
First stint: 2001-12 | Returned: 2018
Ichiro’s career might not be quite over — he’ll be on the Mariners’ roster when they open the 2019 season against the A’s in Japan — but this is likely the final stop for the future Hall of Famer, and it’s back where it all began. Ichiro was a Mariners fan favorite from the start. He burst onto the Major League scene in 2001 by winning both MVP and Rookie of the Year honors, and became a franchise icon over the next decade, making 10 straight All-Star teams, winning 10 straight Gold Gloves and two batting titles, and leading the Majors in hits seven times — including setting the MLB single-season record with 262 in 2004. He was traded to the Yankees in 2012, but after six years away from Seattle, he returned in 2018.

Video: CLE@SEA: Ichiro received warmly in Mariners return

Barry Zito, Athletics
First stint: 2000-06 | Returned: 2015
Zito was the 2002 AL Cy Young winner and a three-time All-Star in Oakland from 2000-06, and he helped lead the A’s to five playoff appearances in those first seven big league seasons. The left-hander crossed the Bay to the Giants in a blockbuster free-agent signing in December 2006, but never quite recaptured his A’s dominance in San Francisco. After seven years with the Giants, and a year out of baseball in 2014, Zito returned to Oakland in 2015 and made his final three big league appearances in September. That included a start against the Giants and former teammate Tim Hudson, in honor of the A’s Big Three of the early 2000s — Zito, Hudson and Mark Mulder, who was in attendance for the game.

Video: SF@OAK: Former teammates Hudson and Zito square off

Ken Griffey Jr., Mariners
First stint: 1989-99 | Returned: 2009
The Kid is both a Mariners and MLB legend, and his career came full circle with Seattle. With his iconic left-handed swing, Griffey slugged his way to four AL home run crowns and the 1997 MVP Award over his first 11 big league seasons with the M’s. After leaving for the Reds at the turn of the millennium, Griffey returned to the Mariners at the tail end of his career in 2009. In his first game back with Seattle in nearly a decade, Griffey homered. Just over a week later, on April 15, he hit his 400th home run in a Mariners uniform. Griffey retired the next year, ending a 630-home-run Hall of Fame career.

Video: LAA@SEA: Griffey cranks his 400th homer as a Mariner

Tom Glavine, Braves
First stint: 1987-2002 | Returned: 2008
Glavine, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz formed the nucleus of maybe the best starting rotation of all time, with the Hall of Fame trio leading the Braves teams that dominated the NL East from the 1990s through the early 2000s, when Atlanta won 14 straight division titles. Glavine spent his first 16 seasons in Atlanta, winning two Cy Young Awards (1991 and ’98) and finishing in the Top 3 four other times. He left to sign with the Mets entering the 2003 season, but came back to the Braves for one last go-round at age 42 in 2008. The left-hander’s 305th and final win came in an Atlanta uniform on May 20 of that season.

Video: CHC@ATL: Glavine records final career strikeout

Roger Clemens, Yankees
First stint: 1999-2003 | Returned: 2007
The Rocket’s final big league season came with plenty of fanfare: Clemens announced his return via a news bulletin and public announcement during a May 2007 game at Yankee Stadium. His prorated one-year, $28 million contract made plenty more headlines in the following days, and Clemens’ return was fully embraced by New York fans, with the Yankees trailing the rival Red Sox in the AL East. The 44-year-old made his much-anticipated debut in early June, holding the Pirates to three runs over six innings while striking out seven. But the rest of Clemens’ season lacked the luster Yankees fans had come to expect (he finished 6-6 with a 4.18 ERA), as Boston won the World Series for the second time in four years.

Video: MIN@NYY: Roger Clemens gets his 350th win

Dennis Eckersley, Red Sox
First stint: 1978-84 | Returned: 1998
Eckersley cemented his Hall of Fame status in Oakland, but he came into his own as a Red Sox starter, most notably in 1978 when he led Boston with 20 wins and a 2.99 ERA during the club’s famous pennant race with the Yankees. Eck appeared as a starter in all 191 appearances during his first Boston tenure, but was a full-time reliever by the time he signed with the Red Sox as a 43-year old in the winter of 1997. The right-hander chipped in 50 relief appearances as the Red Sox captured the AL Wild Card with a 92-70 record, and he even got one last save on May 15.

Video: KC@BOS: Eckersley records final save of his career

Gary Carter, Expos
First stint: 1974-84 | Returned: 1992
Few players, if any, were more beloved in Montreal than Carter, and his trade to the Mets in December 1984 arguably turned the tide of both franchises for the rest of the decade. Carter finished his first Expos tenure with seven All-Star Game nods, three Gold Gloves and three Silver Sluggers before helping the Mets capture the ’86 World Series, but after brief stops in San Francisco and Los Angeles, the catcher returned to Montreal in 1992 for a final victory lap at age 38. Carter’s new teammates still jokingly referred to him as “The Kid,” and perhaps his presence galvanized the Expos as they improved by 16 wins from the previous year.

Don Sutton, Dodgers
First stint: 1966-80 | Returned: 1988
Sutton was a workhorse frontline starter for 15 years in Los Angeles, bridging the gap from Sandy Koufax’s last season in 1966 to the doorstep of “Fernandomania” in ’81. He moved on to form a stacked rotation with Nolan Ryan and Joe Niekro with Houston and then pitched for the Brewers, A’s and Angels before winding his way back to Chavez Ravine for one final season in 1988. Then 43, Sutton started 16 games and compiled a 3.92 ERA before the Dodgers released him in early August — though he still joined the team’s World Series celebration at the White House that winter.

Reggie Jackson, Athletics
First stint: 1968-75 | Returned: 1987
The A’s drafted Jackson with the second overall pick in just the second MLB Draft in 1966, and he moved with the franchise from Kansas City to Oakland as the A’s ascended from cellar-dweller to perennial powerhouse. The slugger powered Oakland’s dynastic World Series three-peat clubs from 1972-74, claiming the Series MVP honor in ’73, and finished his first A’s tenure with 254 home runs before building his “Mr. October” persona in the Bronx. At age 41, Jackson returned to the Bay Area in ’87 and hit 15 homers for Oakland to finish with 563 — good for sixth on the all-time career list when he hung up his spikes. He singled in his final Major League at-bat on Oct. 4.

Video: OAK@CWS: Reggie Jackson single in final at-bat

Minnie Minoso, White Sox
First stint: 1951-57 | Returned: 1960, ’64, ’76, ’80
Minoso made history as one of the first Cuban players in the Major Leagues and one of the first Latin Americans to play in an All-Star Game. A versatile outfielder and third baseman, Minoso led the AL multiple times in triples and stolen bases while routinely hitting over .300 in his first tenure with the White Sox from 1951-57, then returned to the South Side multiple times during the latter half of his career. But Minoso’s most memorable reunions with the White Sox came in 1976 and ’80, when he came out of retirement at ages 50 and 54, respectively, to become one of the oldest Major Leaguers to ever take the field. Because his career began in 1949, Minoso, incredibly, played in five different decades.

Video: CAL@CWS: Minoso singles for final hit of MLB career

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.

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