Photo Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Longtime Major League Baseball pitcher and potential Hall of Famer CC Sabathia is the subject of an upcoming HBO documentary that will chronicle his life story.

Titled Under the Grapefruit Tree: The CC Sabathia Story, the documentary is built around the veteran pitcher’s final season with the New York Yankees in 2019, incorporating behind-the-scenes footage from his 19th year in the major leagues.

As he progresses through that 2019 season, Sabathia will narrate the story of his life and career beginning with his upbringing in Vallejo, California. To develop his pitching skills, he would throw grapefruits that fell from a tree in his grandmother’s backyard.


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During Sabathia’s final season, he compiled a 5-8 record and 4.95 ERA in 23 appearances (22 starts) with 107 strikeouts in 107 1/3 innings. That Yankees team finished first in the AL East and went on to lose the American League Championship Series to the Houston Astros.

For a seven-year span, from 2006 through 2012, Sabathia was one of the best pitchers in baseball. He won 19 or more games four times, threw 230 or more innings five times, was named to four All-Star teams, and won the American League Cy Young Award in 2007.

Sabathia pitched eight seasons for the Cleveland Indians, half a season (17 games) with the Milwaukee Brewers, and 11 years with the Yankees. He finished with a career record of 251-161 and 3.74 ERA, logging 3,577 1/3 innings and 3,053 strikeouts in his 19 seasons.

As part of his story, Sabathia will also detail his struggles with alcohol and addiction that culminated with him checking into rehab following the 2015 season. He wrote about the decision in a piece for The Players’ Tribune, titled “My Toughest Out.”

“I couldn’t be more grateful for the chance to give viewers an inside look into my career and to share my unfiltered story,” Sabathia said in a statement announcing the documentary from HBO.

“I struggled for a long time with alcohol addiction and anxiety, which I pretty much hid from everyone I knew. It’s my hope we can inspire athletes and non-athletes alike to open up and let their friends, family and teammates know that there is a path through this. You are not alone.”

Under the Grapefruit Tree: The CC Sabathia Story premieres Dec. 22 on HBO and HBO Max.

About Ian Casselberry

Ian is a writer, editor, and podcaster. You can find his work at Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He's written for Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation.