What MLB Baseball Players Had Career-Ending Injuries?

What MLB Baseball Players Had Career Ending Injuries

Although not a contact sport like American football or hockey, the repeated use of muscles, intense grind of daily training, and freak accidents can still result in serious injuries for baseball players. Many talented athletes have had their professional careers ended before they even started, or their abilities seriously inhibited, by injuries. In this article, a few of the most disheartening of these career-ending injuries are covered as we walk through the careers and injuries of Sandy Koufax, Ken Griffey Jr., and Dustin Pedroia.

Sandy Koufax

Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax only played 12 years of Major League Baseball, from 1955 to 1966. Koufax took a while to get his pitching career rolling: the first six years he played were mostly unremarkable. However, in 1961 something clicked for Koufax, and the last half of his career was nothing short of spectacular.

In six years, Koufax managed three Cy Young awards, an NL MVP, six All-Star games, three World Series rings, and two World Series MVPs. This dazzling latter half of Koufax’s career made his career-ending elbow arthritis all the more devastating. It is truly impossible to know where Koufax’s career would have gone had medicine been advanced enough to allow him to continue playing.

Ken Griffey Jr.

Ken Griffey Jr.’s career followed the opposite pattern of Sandy Koufax’s. The first 12 years of Griffey’s career were filled with both defensive and offensive accolades, while the later 10 seasons were eclipsed by injuries. Griffey won the 1997 American League MVP, seven Silver Sluggers, 10 Gold Gloves, and played in 11 All-Star games his first 12 seasons.

After this amazing stretch, Griffey suffered multiple serious injuries, including a wrist, knee, and shoulder injury, that forced him to sit out most of the 2002-2004 seasons. Although Griffey Jr. still holds the seventh slot in the MLB all-time home run list, with 630 homers, it is hard to imagine he would not have hit even more had he been healthy during all 22 seasons.

Dustin Pedroia

Dustin Pedroia won Rookie of the Year in 2007, playing second base for the Boston Red Sox. In what would turn into only a 14-season career, Pedroia managed three World Series rings in Boston, on top of a slew of personal accolades. Pedroia won AL MVP in 2008, four Gold Gloves, and earned four All-Star invitations.

In 2017, this promising and even Hall-of-Fame-track career was ended in a moment, when an opposing runner slid into Pedroia at second base, resulting in a serious knee injury and surgeries to try and remedy the damage. Pedroia tried to play through the injury for a few years, but eventually, in 2021, Pedroia had to call his MLB career quits.