CC Sabathia’s storied road to his final season is the stuff of movies. Growing up in a tough neighborhood in Vallejo, California, he first took the field at 4 years old. The kids from C.C.’s neighborhood played with him all the way into high school, and he’s known for being a role model and team leadership to this day. CC credits his support system for getting him to where he is today, recalling that his mother, Margie, working as a single mom, was so set on C.C. becoming a pitcher that she invested in catching gear for herself.
Sabathia went on to become the youngest player in the MLB the year that he was signed. Now facing retirement as a contender for the Hall of Fame, we caught up with CC, who gave us his own career highlights.
Getting drafted to Cleveland
Chosen by the Indians in the first round of the 1998 MLB Draft out of Vallejo, California, and instead of pursuing a football career at UCLA, Sabathia quickly worked his way through the Indians’ farm system and made his Major League debut during the 2001 season. CC Sabathia went 17-5 over that first year and finished runner-up in the voting for the American League Rookie of the Year. Over seven and a half seasons with the Tribe, Sabathia posted a 106-71 record (.599 winning percentage) with a 3.83 earned run average over 1,528.2 innings of work in 237 appearances, all starts. He registered 1,265 strikeouts (sixth most in club history), made three AL All-Star teams, and helped Cleveland make the postseason twice, including 2007 when they made it all the way to Game 7 of the American League Championship Series. Sabathia, recently honored by the Indians, talked about returning to his first MLB home: “"It was a great time, a great time for me," Sabathia said. "I was out here early today and just walking around and it’s weird, man. I don’t have like memories good or bad either way. It’s just memories. It’s a weird thing and it just feels so comfortable to be in this park."
Winning the 2009 World Series
Sabathia, brought on the previous winter after announcing free agency from Cleveland, helped the Yankees capture their 27th World Series title by defeating the Phillies. That same year, the 2009 ALCS MVP award was given to CC Sabathia, who allowed just two earned runs over 16 innings in his two starts that series, posting a 1.13 ERA and earning both decisions. The Yankees won the World Series in six games, just as they did in the inaugural season of the old Yankee Stadium, in 1923.
CC Sabathia reached 3,000 career strikeouts on a Tuesday night against the Arizona Diamondbacks, becoming the 17th major leaguer and third left-hander to achieve the milestone. “We [were] waiting for this all week,” Sabathia’s wife, Amber, said in an interview with the Yankees’ YES Network after it happened. She added the lofty total was “part of his legacy.” It took five pitches to Arizona catcher and former Yankees player John Ryan Murphy in the second inning and more than 18 seasons in the big leagues for Sabathia to join the exclusive group, landing his name among the greatest pitchers to ever play the game. The 17th member of the 3,000-strikeout fraternity, he is also the third black pitcher after Ferguson Jenkins and Bob Gibson to record 3,000 strikeouts. “I know both of those guys and being a Black Ace is something I take very serious, being one of the guys to win 20 games,” Sabathia said. “To be on that list of guys with 3,000 strikeouts is hard to grasp. It’s hard to think about, but it’s cool to be on that list.”
Winning the Cy Young Award
C.C. Sabathia won the American League Cy Young Award as top pitcher for the 2007 season while with the Cleveland Indians. Sabathia, 27, posted a 19-7 record with a 3.21 earned run average for the Central Division champion Indians. The big left-hander, who became the first Cleveland pitcher since Gaylord Perry in 1972 to win the Cy Young, struck out 209 in 241 innings and issued just 37 walks. “I was proud of the fact that I was able to go out there every fifth day, take the ball and be in control of most games. when I went out there,” he said. Sabathia, who has implored baseball officials to support programs encouraging more African Americans to play the game, became the first black to win the AL award in 36 years.
A word from CC Sabathia
“My career has been full of incredible teammates and fans and I am so thankful to have you all as part of my team. Your donation helps our foundation in our three signature programs providing young people with the tools needed to be successful in school and on the field: the All-Star Baseball Clinic, Youth Backpack Program and Field Renovations. My wife Amber and I were motivated by not only the idea of giving back, but also by developing a long term platform to provide young people with the chance to believe in themselves and to make their dreams become a reality. By entering, you are helping us do just that! Thank you so much and good luck!”
Enter the CC Sabathia Sweepstakes for your chance to win time with the big man on the mound and send him off in style!