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CC Sabathia Looks Back on Storied MLB Career, Transformation Off the Field

“CC Sabathia is among the last of a dying breed across baseball.

The former Yankees hurler retired following the 2019 season with 251 career wins, 3,577 innings and 3,404 strikeouts, ending his career with a statistical résumé that may never be matched again. Astros pitchers Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke are the other only active hurlers with more wins. No active player is within 500 innings, and Sabathia still sits ahead of active leader Max Scherzer on the all-time strikeouts list.

The sheer volume of Sabathia’s career is staggering. As baseball continues to evolve into a game of heavy bullpen usage and innings limits for starters, Sabathia’s career feats feel almost unattainable. His left arm carried him from his childhood fields in Vallejo, Calif., to the World Series at Yankee Stadium. But while the outline of Sabathia’s life is that of a storybook, his journey to baseball superstardom was anything but a fairy tale.

Sabathia details a series of personal struggles that coincided with his MLB rise in his new memoir, Till the End. The book—cowritten with New York journalist Chris Smith—is a jarringly honest account of each stage of Sabathia’s career, where struggles with alcohol were a near-constant. Sabathia’s life is no sob story. He describes a happy and supportive household in Vallejo, with a tight-knit community serving as both protector and motivator for the young CC Sabathia, who totaled more than $250 million in career salary. He reached six All-Star games, and proudly became the 14th member of the Black Aces when he won 21 games in 2010. Yet his life became increasingly split in the latter stage of his career. Sabathia was a sage veteran and steady presence for New York on the mound. Managing life outside the white lines was the real challenge.”