No one will forget the performance Chad Bettis delivered on Aug. 14, 2017. After being sidelined by cancer and chemotherapy treatments for nine months, Bettis returned to the mound and a standing ovation at Coors Field. After shutting down testicular cancer, he threw seven scoreless innings and led the Rockies to a 3-0 win over the Braves.
It’s one of the best moments in Rockies history, if not MLB history. Just thinking of it brings a tear to my eye.
On Thursday, Bettis, who was signed as a free agent by the Yankees in the offseason and was vying to make the roster this spring training before COVID-19 shut baseball down, announced his retirement from baseball on Instagram:
“Just over a decade ago I had the privilege of beginning my professional baseball career with the Rockies. I am honored that I was able to fulfill my childhood dreams, along with being able to share some incredible moments with teammates, friends, fans, and most importantly my family.
“I want to thank the New York Yankees even though it was not how I drew this up. I appreciate you for welcoming me with open arms. You guys and the organization are truly First Class!
“Today I am walking away from the game with my head held high, knowing that I pushed my body as far as it could go physically. Baseball has provided countless life lessons that I will hold on to and cherish forever. My family and I are extremely excited for our next phase of life. Again, we truly want to thank everyone from the Rockies, Yankees, and baseball fans all around for the support. We had a blast!”
Bettis pitched all 600 2⁄3 of his MLB innings with the Rockies from 2013-2019. He finished his career with a 31-31 record, a 5.12 ERA, a 1.468 WHIP, one complete game, one save, and 431 strikeouts. He appeared in 162 games, 92 of which he started. After being a second-round pick in 2010, he worked his way to the big leagues in 2013. He had his best ERA and WHIP season in 2015 with 4.23 and 1.409 marks respectively. He made a career-high 32 starts in 2016 and posted a 14-8 record. He struggled in 2018 and 2019, and despite moving to the bullpen, still couldn’t find his groove, which was also hampered by a hip injury.
Throughout his career, he gained praise from teammates and players around the league, as well as fans who he inspired with his courageous battle against cancer and positive attitude. Even MLB Trade Rumors said, “MLBTR wishes him the best in retirement.”
Thomas Harding wrote a great piece in 2017 after that game, complete with video after Bettis’ memorable comeback game if you want to relive the glorious moment.
He also spoke about his health and chance at a new start in an article from Forbes’ Jack Etkin in April.
Bettis had hip surgery in August of 2019 and had recovered well enough to hold a workout and invite teams to watch in January. The Yankees showed interest and Bettis signed a deal to attend spring training in February. He also would become teammates with former Rockies DJ LeMahieu, Adam Ottavino, Tommy Kahnle, Chris Iannetta, and Mike Tauchman. Bettis told Etkin, “I felt like it was the best opportunity for me, but I also wanted to go somewhere where I was really wanted and felt like I added value. And for me, it definitely helps to have a lot of familiar faces over there, or over here, I should say.”
Maybe in a non-pandemic world, things would have worked out differently and Bettis could have served up another inspiring comeback. Instead, this chapter of his life has reached its end and I think it’s safe to say that all of the Purple Row community thanks him for all he gave to the Rockies and wishes him all the best in his future.