Being a professional athlete may be rewarding due to sporting accomplishments and the celebrity lifestyles that many pro athletes enjoy today, but it’s tough. It’s tough to break into professional sports, but once there, there’s no let-up. The endless hours of training, dieting, dedication to your craft – all of this is to nurture and enhance your skills on the field, but it can certainly take its toll on the mind and the body. So when it’s time to say goodbye and walk away from professional sports, many athletes enjoy no longer having to stick to the regimented lifestyles and the punishing schedules that athletes endure.
Now let’s face it, baseball doesn’t exactly breed fit-looking athletes. It’s a sport where you can get away with being out of shape; there aren’t and haven’t been many Herculean physiques that have graced the baseball field over the years. Give the ball a tonk, deliver a fast pitch, and depending on your role, have some foot speed.
Since plenty of baseball players have been overweight during their MLB days, it’s no surprise, that without the little bit of fitness work and training they used to do, post-MLB they’ve just continued to balloon in weight. Some guys actually took care of themselves while they were professionals, but let loose afterwards, piled on the pounds and let themselves go. Others look terrific post-MLB as if they they could still take to the baseball field.
Here’s a look at 16 former MLB pros -- eight who look great and eight who let themselves go.
16 Great: Dmitri Young
We’ve mentioned how a lot of these ex-pros were fat during their playing days, and then post-MLB, just got fatter. But Dmitri Young bucks the trend; he did things the other way around. Young was huge during his playing days – he was massive and continued to pile on the pounds over his 13-year MLB career. He weighed an astonishing 295 pounds at his heaviest, making him the third heaviest MLB player of all time. But post-MLB, Young, now 43, looks terrific. He’s lost a ton of weight and is truly unrecognizable from his playing days. He hasn’t just lost weight, he’s actually skinny, and has lost about 100 pounds.
It was health concerns that started Young’s weight-loss journey. For years, he’s had to contend with being a diabetic, and other issues due to his weight. After a strict exercise regime, he’s peeled off the weight, is far healthier than he was as an MLB player, and looks all the better for it.
15 Let Go: Ken Griffey Jr.
Former outfielder George Kenneth "Ken" Griffey Jr. had a long stint at the top in MLB, playing for 22 years with three different teams. He spent the majority of his career with the Seattle Mariners, and it’s where he made a name for himself as a prolific hitter – one of the best in history. With 630 home runs, Junior was box office; fans loved him, as did other companies looking to get him on board, like Nike and Nintendo. He had a decent physique too – a powerful build, which just added to that star persona.
Post-MLB, he’s packed on a lot of weight. He’s suffered from health problems which may be a contributing factor to his weight gain, although he now looks in better shape – he seems to be doing something about it.
14 Great: Bip Roberts
Former MLB second baseman and outfielder Bip Roberts enjoyed a decent career with six different teams in MLB. Over the course of his 12-year career, Bip was known for his speed, his ability to steal bases and his pinch hitting. To do all this, you’ve got to be fit, and Bip certainly was. He stole 264 bases and had a batting average of .294 during his MLB career, and he looked good doing it – every part a professional sportsman. He was a pretty diminutive figure on the baseball field, and nothing’s really changed since his retirement in 1998. He’s in his 50s now, but looks like he still takes care of himself; he still looks lean, fit and healthy – in terrific shape for a 53-year-old.
13 Let Go: Roger Clemens
Roger Clemens used to be a big guy; he still is today, but in another sense. Broad-shouldered and muscular, Clemens pitched his way to the top – he ended his career as one of the best pitchers of all time in the MLB. Using the strength that he gained from his size, Clemens made a name for himself as an intimidating pitcher; those hard-throwing pitches would make the batsman quake in their boots.
Clemens was alleged to have used performance enhancers to build his physique, something that he’s always firmly denied. Whether steroids had a part to play or not, Clemens possessed awesome physical presence, which he used to his advantage on the baseball field.
When he walked away from the sport in 2007, all the muscle gradually began to waste away, and in its place, there’s a bit of a gut. Clemens is now bloated and that hard physique has turned to mush.
12 Great: Cal Ripken Jr.
The Iron Man had a stellar career in the MLB. Across 21 seasons, he amassed 431 home runs and is a deserved MVP. What’s remarkable is that he spent his entire career with one team – Baltimore Orioles – with whom he won numerous accolades and gained plenty of accomplishments. Ripken was also one of the fittest players around; his staggering record-breaking feat of playing 2,632 consecutive games for the Orioles is a testimony to that.
Fitness is obviously a way of life for Ripken because after retiring in 2001, he still looks terrific at 56. With business ventures keeping him occupied, I suppose he’s always on his feet, out and about, which has probably contributed to him keeping himself fit and trim. He’s still actively involved in baseball in a number of different ways; perhaps that’s why, at the age of 56, he still looks great.
11 Let Go: Pedro Martinez
Pedro Jaime Martínez is a former starting pitcher and played for five teams during his 17-year career in the MLB. He retired in 2009 with a record of 219 wins and 100 losses – one of the best win/loss ratios in MLB history. At his peak, Pedro was an eight-time All-Star and won numerous other accolades as a star pitcher, possessing an arsenal of different pitches which he executed day in day out with considerable control and perfection.
Standing in at 5-foot-11 in and weighing 170 pounds, Pedro was a pretty diminutive figure in comparison to the power pitchers we see today. But that 170 pounds just continued to increase when he called time on his playing days. He added more than a few pounds when he stopped pitching, and baseball fans weren’t shy in letting him know, tearing into him on social media when he began working for TBS and having commentary stints.
10 GREAT: Ron Darling
The darling of MLB had a glittering 13-year career in the sport. By the end of his career, he had thrown 1,590 strikeouts and had an 3.87 ERA. He was a glittering starting pitcher and deserved World Series Champion and Golden Glove Award winner.
During his playing days, he was certainly a looker; he was fit, was an explosive pitcher, and had the personality too – the complete package that oozed star quality. Now that he’s no longer unleashing 90 mph fastballs, the Darling persona hasn’t diminished. He may have put on a few pounds – as you do when in your late 50s – but he still looks great; quite dapper as he goes about his commentating duties. He looks like someone in his early 40s, not late 50s.
9 Let Go: Pete Rose
The man known as “Charlie Hustle” played in the MLB for a remarkable 23 years. He also managed the Reds, and had a long and pretty decent career as a switch hitter, but it was a career that was marred by plenty of controversy, which is ultimately what will be remembered.
From tax evasion to gambling, Rose’s career was tainted due his antics post-MLB. He also had a somewhat volatile personality, and was once suspended for 30 days after pushing an umpire.
Despite these controversies, no one can doubt his skills as a slugger on the baseball field, and he’s deserved all the accolades that have come his way.
During his playing days, Rose wasn’t exactly lean. He was, let’s call it chunky, but after the MLB he let himself go, and his stomach just continued to grow and grow. He’s not the fattest 75-year-old in the world, but he’s certainly let himself go after his playing days.
8 GREAT: Barry Bonds
One of the greatest MLB players of all time had a glittering career that was also littered with controversy.
Bonds was undoubtedly one of the sport’s greatest hitters; he could hit the ball miles, had an awesome level of strength and was one of the fittest guys on the baseball field. Bonds was fit and in good shape before he decided to take things to the next level. When he took steroids, he just blew up, packed on an incredible amount of size onto his previously slight and lean frame and began tonking the ball out of the ballpark for fun.
Post-MLB, he’s remained fit, still loves to train and still possesses an impressive amount of muscularity for a guy who’s in his 50s. Sure, steroids have had something to do with him looking great, but let’s give him some credit and attribute the way he looks to his dedication to the health and fitness lifestyle.
7 Let Go: Greg Luzinski
Gregory Michael "The Bull" Luzinski was never the fittest guy in MLB. At 6'1 and 255 pounds at his heaviest, Greg doesn’t resemble one of your modern day, fit and healthy athletes. Today, it might be frowned upon to be carrying a bit of excess weight, but back in the 70s and 80s when Greg was around, it was pretty much the norm. His size enabled him to pack a lot of weight and plenty of power behind his hits, and he became a renowned slugger for the Philadelphia Phillies and the Chicago White Sox during the latter part of his MLB career. He may not have been technically brilliant, but his hitting was mightily effective.
After making his debut at 19, he continued to pile on the pounds. When his playing days were over, the little bit of exercise, fitness and control that he adhered to as a baseball player went out of the window and he really let himself go. Post-MLB, his weight’s ballooned, and at the age of 66, it seems as if he’s at his heaviest.
6 GREAT: Derek Jeter
Think of the Yankees and you think of Derek Jeter. He walked away from the MLB a couple of years back a New York Yankees legend. Twenty seasons in the MLB resulted in him becoming one of the best hitters of all time, and his base running, fielding, and leadership skills were legendary, which meant that he retired having cemented himself as an all-time great.
Jeter was in decent shape during his playing days. Sure, he’s only been away from the sport for only a few years, but he looks as good as he ever did. The hair’s totally gone, but that aside, he looks great. Playing holes with the likes of Tiger Woods seems to be keeping Jeter fit and active. He also recently gotten married. Clearly, Jeter’s been keeping himself busy since his retirement.
5 Let Go: Fernando Valenzuela
Fernando’s another guy who obviously wasn’t too fond of the gym when he was playing in the MLB. Despite his paunch, he ended up being a formidable pitcher in the MLB, not because he was a hard thrower, but because of for the six teams he played during his 17- year career at the highest level.
Fernando didn’t really work on the fitness aspect of his game. He didn’t really need to as he possessed a tremendous amount of natural talent; he didn’t even look up at the plate when he was pitching!
Post-MLB, he’s really let himself go, but seems jolly and like he’s enjoying life sitting in the commentator’s chair and doing a bit of coaching on the side. To each his own.
4 Great: Mariano Rivera
Here’s another New York Yankees veteran who played alongside Derek Jeter for the majority of his career. Rivera spent his time with the Yankees as a relief pitcher, and was very successful at the role too. He was known for his consistency and when he walked away from the MLB in 2013, he had cemented his place as an all-time great reliever. A place in the Hall of Fame will certainly be his when he’s eligible.
Rivera recently turned 47 and still looks as good as he did during his playing days. Today, he spends his time taking care of his various business interests, and has busied himself with a number of philanthropic efforts. For a 47-year-old, he’s in top shape, and can still be seen playing with his son, Mariano III, who’s on course to emulate his dad and play in the MLB.
3 Let Go: John Kruk
After calling time on a decade-long career, Kruk had amassed 100 home runs and had a batting average of .300. He was also a three-time All-Star for the Philadelphia Phillies before he ended his career with the Chicago White Sox in 1995 as a designated hitter.
Kruk was heavy as a hitter and continued to pack more weight onto his 5’10 frame throughout his playing days. But now that he’s retired, he’s gone wild and is way fatter. He’s really let himself go and has got even bigger since joining the ESPN commentary team and working as a broadcaster. The ESPN studios must keep their crew well-fed, because his weight’s ballooned over the years; comically, Kruk also writes a column called Chewing the Fat on the ESPN website.
2 GREAT: Randy Johnson
After 21 years in the MLB playing for six different teams, "The Big Unit" was a highly popular figure in baseball. The left-handed pitcher ended his career in 2009 with 4,875 strikeouts and 303 career victories. Johnson’s been the recipient of a number of awards and accolades throughout his career and deservedly so.
At 6'10, Johnson is renowned for often clocking 100 mph, and his signature pitch, the slider. He was an explosive pitcher and a recognizable one too, with his long locks and that stash.
Being 6’10, Johnson would’ve had to have eaten a hell of a lot to get out of shape. Now 53 years old, he looks the same as he did in his playing days; lean – maybe not so mean – fit and healthy. He still trains like a professional.
1 Let Go: Boog Powell
Former MLB first baseman, Boog Powell, spent 17 seasons in the MLB. He was a powerful hitter, with 339 home runs, which included him being one of only a few players to hit three home runs in a game – he did on three occasions. During his glory years, he was a four-time All-Star, won the World Series twice, was an MVP in 1970, and was inducted into the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame, for whom he played 13 years, from 1961-1974.
Powell actually had a decent physique when he was playing, but the weight began to pile on when he retired in 1977. He has a love for barbecues, and it shows. Powell owns a company called Boog's Barbecue and has appeared in a number of different commercials for Miller Lite beer over the years. Barbecue and booze – that’s a combination that’s guaranteed to pack on weight, and looking at Powell today, it certainly has.