Playing four years in Gainesville and 15 seasons in the MLB with six different teams, it was time to hang it up for Darren O’Day. He went from not even thinking baseball was his future to having a long career. He talked with Steve Russell about his retirement, his career, the future of baseball and more.
O’Day has been around the game for a long time. He played fifteen seasons in the pros with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, New York Mets, Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees and Atlanta Braves. Why retire now? It was just time. His desire to be with family outweighed the desire to keep playing.
“I’m just tired of it.”
It all started when he walked on at Florida (for a second time). Receiving some offers from some smaller schools and the opportunity to play JUCO, he could’ve gone another route. He wanted to be a Gator. Even coming out of college he wasn’t very highly sought after, going undrafted. It didn’t matter. He went on to make the All-Star team in 2015.
Playing with six teams wasn’t easy, but he adjusted to it. From three teams in one year and thinking he was going down a rough path, all it took was a mindset change. Most guys aren’t all that different. You’ve just got to find your group. Now? He says he knows guys on almost every team.
Coming out of high school, he threw the ball overhand. It got enough done to get to JUCO or some smaller schools, but that wasn’t enough. After getting cut from the Gators team a first time, he went back home and joined an 18-and-over league. He took throwing sidearm as a new trick, tried out again and made the team. Four years later, he was heading to the MLB.
The State of the Game
Baseball is changing. Rules are changing, schedules are changing, everything is changing. As a now former player, O’Day thinks it’s going to be interesting to see how it works. He just doesn’t know.
“This coming season is going to be the most interesting season in a long time.”
Now that his playing career is over, what’s next? Will he coach? Definitely not five-year-olds. He doesn’t plan to coach in general either, even having some offers from the Braves. He hung it up so that he can spend time with his family and that’s exactly what he’s going to do. Maybe there could be a future in broadcasting, but we’ll have to wait and see.
He will be in Gainesville in the near future, though. Darren O’Day is set to throw the first pitch for the Gator’s 2023 baseball season, which opens Feb. 17 against Charleston Southern.