By Amanda Dronzek
The career of Dustin Pedoria was one that defeated odds and climbed mountains nobody thought he could climb. Standing at 5 foot 9 inches, the second basemen appeared unfit to play in the major leagues. In college at Arizona State, Pedroia’s scouts determined his skills to be below the major league average, deeming him unfit for a professional career in baseball. 17 years later, Dustin was retiring from his MLB career, playing for the Boston Red Sox since 2006. The inspiring and heartwarming story of Dustin Pedroia’s journey to triumph will be forever remembered and honored by Boston fans, showing all professional athletes that taking a chance on an underdog could end with the career of a lifetime.
The mere charisma and enthusiasm Pedroia showed on and off the field is what made all of Boston cheer on their beloved econd ebasemen for 14 seasons. To fans, Dustin was known less for his accomplishments on the field, but more for his pride in his city and team. That’s not to say Pedroia didn’t have an incredible career as an infielder. From being drafted as the number two pic by the Red Sox in 2004, Pedroia kick started his career by winning the American League Rookie of the Year award in 2007, along with a World Series Championship under his belt. Pedroia also won the American League MVP award in 2008, being one of nine other baseball players to reach this milestone so early in their career. To put that into perspective, those nine players now sit in the hall of fame. By the end of his career, Pedroia was able to return home with four Gold Gloves and four Fielding Bible Awards for his excellence in defense. He was also an owner of four World Series rings, Boston having won those four championships in under 15 years from 2004 to 2018.
Defensively, Pedroia’s career was one for the books. His clutch plays and incredible commitment to the team led him to extraordinary accomplishments as a second basemen. Playing in four All-Star games, Dustin showed the baseball world his fortitude and passion for the sport. To him, playing was less about the gold and more about the game. The energy that constantly followed Pedroia rubbed off on his teammates, who admired his ability to be the first player on the field, and the last one off. His teammates raved about the way Dustin handled his attitude as a player. He was encouraging, jubilant, and overall reflected the character that the Red Sox name represented. For those who believed Pedroia’s size would deter his abilities as a player, they were terribly mistaken. One of the most admirable qualities Pedroia carried with him was his height. Being one of the shortest MLB players, he was still able to have a career that exceeded the expectations of every single person watching.
Pedroia continued to play for the Red Sox up until his very last game. He was heading into his 15th season, his contract allowing him until 2021 to resign. Unfortunately, a chronic knee injury put a wedge in his career. Dustin’s injury corrupted his 2019 season, which also became the final season as a MLB player. Pedroia had gotten surgery recently and was planning to make a comeback for the 2021 season. However, his knee required a partial replacement, which ultimately resulted in the reality that playing baseball again was just not in the cards. This rough patch impacted Dustin mentally and psychically, as he had to come to terms with the situation and understand his career had come to an end. As a child and into adulthood, Pedroia was able to make people enjoy watching him play baseball because of his undying love and appreciation for the game. He inspired people who were in similar situations with their size, and was able to connect with younger players who were considered unable to play at a professional level. After 17 years with the Red Sox organization, Dustin Pedroia retired. The light he emitted from every game would always shine in Fenway Park, but with him gone the field got dimmer. His legacy as a player and a person who Boston was able to watch grow up is something not many teams get to witness. With a 14 season long career, many players presumably would sign with a new team eventually. Dustin never left his home. The Red Sox gave him an opportunity, and Pedroia did not take it for granted. Dustin Pedroia was the embodiment of a team player, one with motivation and optimism. He played every game like it was his last, leaving the number 15 branded in the hearts of Boston fans forever.