Fan-favorite Decker ready for next phase

Slugger retires after MiLB-best homer No. 204, a walk-off shot

Cody Decker announced his retirement at a press conference at Southwest University Park in El Paso. (Jared Ravich/MiLB.com)

By Josh Jackson / MiLB.com | July 8, 2019 3:03 PM

The "antihero" of Minor League Baseball has retired a hero. 

Cody Decker, who entertained fans on the field and off from Class A Fort Wayne to Triple-A Reno and over a dozen stops in between from 2009-19, officially announced his retirement at a press conference on Monday at El Paso, Texas.

The 32-year-old slugger hit a walk-off home run for the Aces on Friday night, giving him the perfect note on which to hang up his spikes. Decker's 204 dingers in stateside, affiliated ball were the most of any active Minor League player. (Triple-A New Orleans' Peter O'Brien is second, with 170.) 

"I've given everything to this game -- my blood, my sweat, my tears, my hair line," Decker said at the press conference, crediting his wife, Jennifer Decker -- a comedian, writer and actress -- with punching up the joke.

Video: Aces' Decker smashes walk-off home run

Beginning in August, the Deckers will host a daily three-hour radio show and a weekly podcast with Entercom Communications. Decker also announced that he's taken a position with the El Paso-based nonprofit organization Border Youth Athletic Association. In his role of associate executive director, he hopes to give "kids in El Paso to have the opportunities I did." 

"My time in El Paso changed my baseball life. This city has meant more to me than any place I've ever been," he said at the press conference at Southwest University Park.

"When I was a kid, I was 8 years old and I got to learn from Reggie Smith, who at the time was the Dodgers hitting coach, and he became my mentor throughout my entire youth and into my high school and college life. ... That's not an opportunity a lot of kids get to have here."

BYAA has plans to build a state-of-the-art baseball facility in hopes of making El Paso a hotbed for highly competitive baseball.

"It's going to be accessible, is the most important thing," Decker said. "We're going to have scholarship programs for people who maybe can't make it on their own. ... The end goal is to get more kids into college through baseball and softball."

Throughout his playing career, Decker, a native of Santa Monica, California, made a number of comedic short films under the banner of Antihero Baseball/Daylight Films, gaining national attention for "On Jeff Ears," a 2014 mockumentary in which Decker and El Paso Chihuahuas teammates and coaching staff pranked outfielder Jeff Francoeur. He typically spent offseasons in the Los Angeles area, where he hosted a multimedia trivia show, made radio appearances and even played an ill-fated security guard on the television show "State of Affairs." He also played winter ball in Mexico and Venezuela.


Cody and Jennifer Decker want to influence sports culture. (Jared Ravich/MiLB.com)

But it was over two seasons with the Chihuahuas that Decker became a clear fan-favorite, and also seemed most poised to make an impact at the big league level.

"I fell in love with this city pretty quickly," he said.

During the 2014-15 Pacific Coast League seasons, he belted 48 home runs and banged out the same number of doubles. He got a cup of coffee with the San Diego Padres at the tail end of his second campaign there, driving in a run in 11 hitless plate appearances, and elected free agency that November.

From there, he enjoyed stints of varying lengths in the Royals, Rockies, Red Sox, Brewers, Mets and D-backs organizations. Selected as a catcher out of UCLA in the 22nd round of the 2009 Draft, the 5-foot-11, 218-pound Decker -- in addition to spending time behind the plate -- logged innings in both corner outfield positions, both corner infield positions and on the mound. Over 8 1/3 innings across nine games -- all at the Triple-A level -- he allowed three runs for a 3.24 ERA.2019 MiLB include

"I've turned down a couple managing positions in the Minor Leagues," Decker said. "I've just finished 11 years in the Minor Leagues. I am not in a rush to jump right back and start my Minor League career over again."

However, he wouldn't rule out pursuing a managing or coaching position at some point in the future. For the time being, he's excited to focus on his work with BYAA and his radio work, which the Deckers believe can contribute to sports culture "in a hopefully very positive way," he said.

Josh Jackson is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @JoshJacksonMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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