The game of baseball always was a grind for Andy Pettitte, he said Sunday while standing at a podium to the right of home plate at Yankee Stadium.
Pettitte, a five-time World Series champion and three-time All-Star who pitched 15 seasons with the Yankees (1995-2003, 2007-10 and 2012-13), was honored in a pregame ceremony with a Monument Park plaque. His No. 46 also was retired as family and former teammates were in attendance.
"I just don't remember ever going out there and feeling like I'm going to step on this mound and absolutely dominate this team because I am so good," Pettitte said. "I know some of the great players have felt like that.
"Every game at the big-league level, mentally, I had to be into it every pitch. It seemed like if I let my focus down for one inning, it was going to be a three-run inning. I needed every ounce of focus and energy to be successful."
For the Yankees, Pettitte went 219-127 with a 3.94 ERA in 447 games (2,796 1/3 innings). He holds the franchise strikeout record with 2,020 and is No. 3 in team wins behind Whitey Ford and Red Ruffing. For his career, Pettitte was 256-153 with a 3.85 ERA.
Pettitte said attention makes him uncomfortable because he didn't play the game for personal recognition. He joked that speaking over the PA system scared him to death, but said it was an honor.
The 43-year-old began by recalling sitting in the Stadium bullpen in awe a little more than 20 years ago after making the team out of spring training as a lefthanded reliever.
He said his success has been a product of great people, family, fans and teammates. The rest of the Yankees' Core Four, Jorge Posada (who had his number retired on Saturday), Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter were present, as was former manager Joe Torre.
"We experienced some amazing wins, some heartbreaking losses," Pettitte said. "Through it all, this place has become home to me and my family."
Former Yankees outfielder Paul O'Neill said he used to ride to the ballpark with Pettitte and knows how much Sunday meant to the pitcher.
"I think it really goes to show you what that team accomplished in those four to five years," O'Neill said. "I always say, you kind of took it for granted while it was going on, but now as you step back -- I had somebody come up to me yesterday and said they watched the ceremony and 'it really looks like you guys liked each other.' And that pretty much sums it up."
Tino Martinez said his favorite memory of Pettitte was during the 1996 World Series in Atlanta. He said he was impressed by Pettitte's ability to dominate in the postseason, where he has 19 wins, the most in major-league history.
"In the postseason, there was nobody you'd rather have on the mound than Andy Pettitte," Martinez said. "Especially in a Game 7 situation, where you know he's going to give you a quality chance to win the game.
"He's just so focused. He prepares himself in the four days he's not pitching for that one outing he has a week. He has a great game plan and obviously his stuff helps him out as well. His whole career was like that . . . he was able to correct his flaws on the fly during the season."