NEW YORK, May 30 (UPI) -- New York Mets righthander David Cone announced his retirement Friday, limping away with five World Series rings and a perfect game to his credit.
Cone hung up his cleats only five appearances into his comeback, blaming a bad hip instead of a 40-year-old arm that has worked through nearly 3,000 innings in the major leagues.
After sitting out a year, Cone returned to the Mets this season and earned a roster spot in spring training. He made four starts before aggravating a lingering hip injury that sent him to the disabled list.
He pitched two innings of relief in Philadelphia on Wednesday, but felt too much pain in his arthritic hip to continue.
"I've had problems with my hip and I've always been able to manage it, but it became unmanageable," he said. "After all the years, I thought it would be my arm. I never thought it would be the hip."
Cone retired on the same day the Mets were expected to activate lefthander John Franco, a 43-year-old who has not pitched in more than a year due to "Tommy John" surgery. Franco is second on the all-time saves list with 422.
"It's one 40-year-old giving a 43-year-old a chance," Cone said.
The Mets gave Cone a chance in spring training and he took advantage of it, earning the fifth spot in the rotation. He shined in his first outing, tossing five scoreless innings April 4 in a 4-0 victory over Montreal.
"That first start back was magical," Cone said of his 194th and final major league victory. "That gave me hope. If that's all I got (from this season), it was worth it."
Cone lost each of his next three starts, allowing 12 runs in 11 innings. He went 1-3 with a 6.50 ERA in his 17th big league season, giving up a run in two innings during his final appearance.
"Wednesday morning, I woke up and realized this wasn't going to work," he said. "The Mets needed someone more reliable, someone that could hold up."
It was somewhat appropriate that Cone's final appearance came in Philadelphia. It was there during the 1991 season finale that he matched a then-National League record with 19 strikeouts.
The night before, a false rape charge involving his name surfaced for the second time in five months. Two years earlier, he was accused of exposing himself to three women in the bullpen at Shea Stadium.
But those were the lowlights to an otherwise outstanding career, most of which took place in New York.
With the Mets, he tossed one-hitters in 1991 and 1988, the year he went 20-3 with a 2.22 ERA and led them to their last division title. With the Yankees, he hurled the last perfect game in baseball and won four World Series rings.
Cone won the American League Cy Young Award during the strike-shortened season of 1994, going 16-5 with a 2.94 ERA. He was traded from Toronto to the Yankees the following year and missed most of 1996 due to an aneurysm in his finger.
Armed with an above-average fastball, curveball, slider and splitter during his prime, Cone went 20-7 with a 3.55 ERA in 1998 at the age of 35. The Yankees won the first of three straight World Series that season.
In 450 major league appearances, Cone went 194-126 with 22 shutouts and a 3.46 ERA, also pitching for Boston in 2001. In 2,898 2/3 innings, he struck out 2,668 batters.
Cone also was solid in the postseason, going 8-3 in 21 appearances. He had not appeared in the playoffs with the Mets since 1998, but thanked them for giving him another chance.
"I want to thank the Mets for one last shot," he said. "I wouldn't have traded it in for anything. They allowed me to come full circle and finish my career in New York."