SEATTLE -- On his way to Seattle earlier this week, Mike Cameron decided he wanted to retire as a member of the Mariners.
It was the one stop in his major league career that most felt like home for the former All-Star center fielder.
"It's a long way from home for me, but it's also been a special home for me," Cameron said on Friday night. "I felt like it was only fitting to try to slide my way into the Mariner family for the rest of my life."
Cameron made that decision official Friday when he signed a one-day employment contract that allowed him to retire as a member of the Mariners organization. Cameron was in town to throw out the first pitch before the team's home opener.
It was a largely ceremonial move, but one Cameron wanted to do while he was here. Cameron was signed for the 2012 season by Washington, but informed the Nationals shortly before spring training that he planned to retire, concluding a career that spanned 17 seasons and seven teams. Cameron also played for the Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati, the New York Mets, San Diego, Milwaukee, Boston and Florida.
"The days that I played here and replacing a legend and the fact that the people took hold and took shape of me and walked me through everything, gave me a great opportunity to start my career off right," Cameron said. "This is basically where I want to finish."
The four seasons Cameron spent in Seattle matched the longest stint he spent with one franchise. But while his four seasons with the White Sox came at the beginning of his career when Cameron was just getting started, his time in Seattle was arguably the prime of Cameron's career.
He was an All-Star in 2001 and also won a Gold Glove that season before adding a second in 2003. He had the unenviable task of taking over in center field after Ken Griffey Jr. was traded to Cincinnati, but quickly made his own mark. In his first week with the Mariners, Cameron made a fence-climbing leap to rob Derek Jeter of a home run and showed he was just as capable in the outfield as his predecessor.
Later in his Seattle career, Cameron hit four homers in one game and was perhaps most remembered for circling the field with an American flag after the Mariners clinched the AL West title in 2001 in the days following the attacks of Sept. 11.
Cameron played 610 games and hit .256 with 87 homers and 344 RBIs with the Mariners. His best season was also Seattle's best season in 2001 when the Mariners won 116 regular-season games and Cameron hit .267 with 25 homers and 110 RBIs.
"We were winners. We won a lot of games here. Came up short as far as getting to the ultimate prize," Cameron said. "But I couldn't be more proud of the thing I was able to do here, so that's why I feel like it should end here."