Teixeira fought back tears Friday as he announced that his 14th season in the major leagues will be his last. At 36, he has decided to retire, effective at the end of the season.
Mark Teixeira's time with the Yankees wasn't perfect, but he will walk away having earned his place among the greats to play first base in pinstripes.
Few players can say that they were pivotal players for historic franchises, but Mark Teixeira was for the Yankees in 2009 — and for the Red Sox.
"I got to live out my dream," said Teixeira, who has hit 404 career home runs and won a World Series with the Yankees in 2009.
He said in spring training that he hoped to play another five years. He has missed time with neck problems and knee problems, however, and he said he made the decision at the All-Star break that this season would be his last.
"I just realized my body can't do it anymore," Teixeira said. "If I'm going to grind through seasons not being healthy, I'd rather be home with my kids.
"My neck hurts almost every day. The knee thing popped up. It all kind of dawned on me that's not in the cards."
Teixeira is in the eighth and final year of a $180 million contract he signed as a free agent in December 2008. He is hitting .198 with 10 home runs and 27 RBIs in 77 games this season.
He kept the decision to himself at first, but after the Yankees went into sell mode at this week's non-waiver trade deadline, he understood there would be questions about his future, too.
"I don't want to be a distraction," said Teixeira, a three-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove winner.
He'll continue to play, and he is in the lineup for Friday night's game against the Cleveland Indians.
Said manager Joe Girardi: "I'm going to put him out there as much as I can [the rest of the season]."
Teixeira's best season came in 2009, his first with the Yankees, when he hit .292 with 39 homers and 122 RBIs and finished second in AL MVP voting.
He said he was proudest of hitting at least 30 home runs and driving in at least 100 runs for eight straight seasons from 2004 through 2011.
He was limited to 15 games and a .151 average in 2013 after tearing the tendon sheath in his right hand while with the U.S. team at the World Baseball Classic. He had surgery that July and missed the remainder of the season, then hit .216 with 22 homers and 62 RBIs the following year, when the hand was still regaining strength and he was slowed by a hamstring injury.
Fully recovered, he made the All-Star team again in 2015 but fouled a pitch off his right leg Aug. 17, played two more games in pain and then found out he had fractured his shin. He finished the season with a .255 average, 31 homers and 79 RBIs.
Teixeira hasn't appeared in more than 123 games in a season since 2011.
Teixeira, taken by the Texas Rangers with the fifth overall pick in the 2001 amateur draft, has also played for the Rangers, Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Angels over his 14-year career. He owns a .269 career batting average with 1,281 RBIs.
Teixeira's potential successor at first base is 23-year-old Greg Bird, who is missing this season after shoulder surgery in February.
On Friday, Teixeira said it mattered to him to retire as a Yankee.
"I gave you everything I had," he said, speaking to Yankees fans as his voice cracked again. "It wasn't always enough, but I tried my best."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.