Friday, December 13, 2013
Halladay, 36, signed a one-day contract to retire as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. He pitched 12 seasons for the Blue Jays and the last four with the Philadelphia Phillies, his wins and appearances decreasing each year with the National League club.
He had surgery in May to repair a partially torn rotator cuff and remove a bone spur and struggled with a reduction in velocity, finishing with a 6.82 earned run average -- the highest of his career since he became a star pitcher -- in 13 starts.
"It's so much fun to play the game and to go out and to compete. I looked forward to that fifth day more than anything," said Halladay, who was a free agent. "To go out there and know that it's probably not going to feel very good and I'm not going to be able to do things the way I want to was very frustrating -- not only personally, but I thought there was a certain responsibility to my teammates, to the organization.
"That part was very challenging for me to feel like you're giving it everything you can but there's something holding you back. That was a major factor in deciding this was the right time (to retire). I want to be able to give everything of myself that I can and I felt like this was a point where I really couldn't do that anymore, I couldn't give them what I wanted to. From that standpoint, we knew it was the right time."
The Phillies acquired Halladay after making back-to-back World Series trips, hoping the right-hander would lead them to more.
Though Halladay never made it to the series with the Blue Jays or Phillies, he did turn in one of the most memorable postseason starts of all-time, throwing only the second no-hitter in playoff history against the Cincinnati Reds in the opener of the 2010 National League Divisional Series -- his first career postseason start.
He threw a perfect game against the Marlins during the regular season that year.
The Phillies made it to the NL Championship Series that season and Halladay pitched again in the 2011 NLDS, finishing with a playoff ERA of 2.37 and a 3-2 record in five starts.
"I'm more comfortable having come up a little bit short than never having that chance," Halladay said.
He captured his first Cy Young Award in 2003 with the Blue Jays after winning a career-high 22 games with a 3.25 ERA, nine complete games, two shutouts, 266 innings pitched and 204 strikeouts.
Halladay went 21-10 in his first season with the Phillies in 2010, striking out 219 with a 2.44 ERA to win the NL Cy Young Award. Overall, he finished in the top-five in Cy Young balloting seven times.
"It was a tremendous run, a tremendous experience and it's something I'll never forget," he said.
Halladay made the announcement at baseball's winter meetings, saying he had a lot to look forward to after hopefully "leaving baseball better than when I found it." He called it an exciting day for his family.
"I had to stop my wife from cracking the champagne this morning," he said.
Halladay gained a reputation as a dogged worker who, if nothing else had gone right in his career, at least would have inspired teammates to work harder on their own game.
"He 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 Phillies left-hander 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."
Phillies pitcher Kyle Kendrick called Halladay "probably the best influence in my career" and said baseball "just lost the best pitcher of the last 10 years."
"He is by far the hardest worker that I've ever seen and treated every game as if it were his last," said Phillies second baseman Chase Utley. "I'll miss his presence and passion but, most of all, I will miss his intensity."
Halladay went 203-105 with a 3.38 ERA, 67 complete games, 20 shutouts and 2,117 strikeouts in 416 major league appearances. He led his league in innings pitched four times and threw nine complete games in a season four times.
"As much as I worked out, I'm not going to miss it," Halladay laughed. "The hardest part is going to be that fifth day, once the season starts ... that's the only part I'm going to miss.
"But as a baseball player you realize that's something you can't do all your life and there's a time it's going to come to an end."