December 03, 2001 11:00 pm

Scott Brosius lived his dream, and in the process he earned the admiration and respect of New York Yankee fans and anyone else who came to realize what a level-headed, respectable individual he is. Professional sports needs more people like Scott Brosius.

Brosius, the pride of McMinnville and Oregons best connection to Major League Baseball, announced his retirement last week. He ended his career with the same kind of class that carried him through 11 years in the majors, including the past four with the Yankees.

Im just ready to be home, Brosius announced during a press conference at Linfield College. I can look back with no regrets and know that everything I wanted to do as a baseball player, every dream I had, has been fulfilled, and theres nothing else for me to chase as a baseball player.

Brosius, at 35, wasnt washed up. The Yankees didnt plan to re-sign him when he became a free agent after this years World Series, but he could have moved on to another team. But for Brosius, there were other priorities.

I just never wanted to get to the point where I looked back 10 years or 20 years from now and my daughter asks me, Why werent you there when I needed you? And I would say, Well, because I wanted to play one more year. I couldnt answer that question that way.

The decision might seem like an easy one to most of us, especially after three World Series titles with the Yankees, including a World Series MVP award in 1998. But to professional athletes, such priorities dont seem to factor in much these days.

Brosius is different. He has some unfinished business to attend to. He plans to complete his business degree at Linfield, since his education was interrupted when he was drafted by Oakland after his junior year. With the success hes had, the degree probably isnt necessary. But he plans to earn it to show his children the value of finishing what he started.

Brosius gave Oregonians even those who dont care much for the Yankees a pro athlete they could look up to and cheer for. In addition to the series MVP award, which he won for hitting .471 with two home runs and six RBIs, Brosius came up as Mr. Clutch in this years World Series by hitting a game-tying, two-run homer in Game 5 his last at-bat at Yankee Stadium.

For Brosius, the chance to be home and to end his career as a Yankee was a no-brainer. I dont care what anybody says, people are lying if theyre saying its not a little bit more special playing for the Yankees, he said. It just doesnt get any better than that as a baseball player.

Scott Brosius has done himself, his family and his state proud.

Welcome home!