Best Player to retire in 2004. Roberto Alomar (Hall of Famer).
Did he have a 2005 card? Yes, a bunch including the Topps card shown above
Alomar bounced around toward the end of his career – spending time with the Mets, White Sox and Diamondbacks. The card above, however, shows the time he spent in spring training 2005 with the Devil Rays. He signed a 1-year deal with them but decided to retire when he felt injuries would inhibit his abilities.
Apologies to: Barry Larkin (Hall of Famer). This was a tough one. I went back and forth over who is the better player. I think it’s probably Alomar as far as his complete baseball career goes, though I think you could argue Larkin has more hobby pull because he spent his whole career with one team and won an MVP. Ultimately, I went with Alomar, probably as an overreaction to mitigate my bias as a Reds (and Larkin) fan.
Larkin retired after the 2004 season, having played 19 years with the Reds. Jim Bowden had recruited him to play another year or two for the Nationals, but Larkin declined to play for a team other than Cincinnati. I wouldn’t have blamed him for playing for Washington, but I’m glad he didn’t. He’s one of 4 players who played their entire career for the team in the city where they grew up – and he’s the only one who isn’t a Yankee (though I’m not counting Cal Ripken who grew up less than an hour away from Baltimore). He did have a few 2005 cards, though his last Topps card was 2004 (I showed that off in my last post).