Monday, December 9, 2013

Roy Halladay Steps Away After 16 Seasons

By PATRICK GORDON | Managing Editor
@Philabaseball

With his son Braden sitting just a few feet away, a misty-eyed Roy Halladay told the baseball world something his family already knew. After 16 seasons in the major leagues, he's ready to move on.

The 36-year-old signed a one-day, minor-league contract with Toronto and announced his retirement during baseball's Winter Meetings in Orlando on Monday. The Blue Jays drafted Halladay in 1995.

“Baseball has been so great to me,” Halladay said with his voice crackling. “My goal is to try to leave baseball better than when I found it. I tried to do that in my career. I tried to be respectful to the game and, moving forward, I’d like to do the same.”

Ironically, Halladay''s retirement announcement comes almost exactly four years to the day that the Blue Jays dealt him to the Phillies.

"We were blessed to have him here for four years," said Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. "Halladay was a true professional in everything he did and baseball will surely miss him."

Struggling through shoulder and back issues, Halladay made only 13 starts with the Phillies in 2013, tossing just 62 innings and putting up a 6.82 ERA. He underwent shoulder surgery on May 15 and returned on August 25, but little improved.

“My shoulder feels as good as it ever has, I’ve been playing catch and throwing to my sons — mind you, I can’t get either one of them out,” Halladay said. “The major issue for me is my back really became an issue. It’s made it hard to pitch with the mechanics that I want to pitch with.”

Halladay will forever be remembered in Philadelphia for his no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds in the 2010 NLDS - his first ever postseason start. He went on to also win the Cy Young Award that year for the second time in his career.

An eight-time All-Star, Halladay arguably was the most dominant pitcher in baseball from 2003-2011. Over that nine-year span he went 151-68 with a 2.97 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP.

"[Halladay] was one of the best competitors who ever played this game and taught everyone around him to prepare the right way in order to be the best," said Cole Hamels. "For me, personally, he helped me understand the game more and gave me insight on how to become a top of the line starting pitcher."

In addition to his precision on the mound, Halladay was known for his gladiator-like work ethic and daily five mile runs.

"He is by far the hardest worker that I've ever seen and treated every game as if it were his last," added Chase Utley. "It was no coincidence why he was the best pitcher of his era. I'm honored to have had the opportunity to watch him pitch for four years. I'll miss his presence and passion but, most of all, I will miss his intensity.”

Halladay had hoped to win a World Series when he left Toronto for Philadelphia, but acknowledges he enjoyed his run with the Phillies, reaching the postseason twice.

"I always knew how hard it was to get to the World Series," Halladay said. "I came up in the AL East, dealing with the Yankees and Red Sox, and going to Philadelphia, I felt like that really gave ourselves the best chance."

As for retiring with the Blue Jays, Halladay felt a sense of allegiance to the club that gave him a chance to realize his dream.

"They could have easily sent me down during my rookie year and things may have turned out differently, but the organization supported me and I'll always thank them for that," Halladay said. "My time with the Phillies was simply icing on the cake."

Halladay will be eligible for election to the Hall of Fame in 2019.

- The Philadelphia Baseball Review is the top baseball news blog in Philadelphia, providing news coverage and analysis of the Phillies and baseball in the Philadelphia-region.

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