Roy Halladay signed a one-day contract so he could end his major league career the way he began it – as a Toronto Blue Jay.
On the first day of the 2013 Winter Meetings, the two-time Cy Young Award winner re-signed with the organization that drafted him in 1995 and then subsequently announced his retirement, accepting that his body had no more to give the game that had developed him into one of the generation’s best pitchers.
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At 36, Roy Halladay fought shoulder problems throughout this past season with the Philadelphia Phillies and struggled through the shortest start of his career against the Miami Marlins, facing only three batters in what will now be his last outing as a major league starter. After that game, he contacted the surgeon who removed bone spurs and repaired the frayed labrum in his right shoulder in May and was advised one simple thing: rest. Halladay had also previously revealed he has been fighting a genetic diet related illness and during today’s press conference in Orlando, Florida, admitted he had been experiencing back problems for quite some time, which became the deciding factor for him.
Blue Jays fans will see this as the only appropriate place for him to hang his No. 32. The 2009 season will always leave a mark on the franchise after Roy Halladay was publicly shopped around by then GM J.P. Ricciardi prior to the trade deadline. Halladay was eventually dealt by Alex Anthopoulos during the offseason for Kyle Drabek, Travis d’Arnaud (who later was the key piece in landing knuckleballer R.A. Dickey) and Michael Taylor.
Many remember Halladay’s trip down to single-A where the late pitching coach Mel Queen rebuilt his delivery and mental approach, which allowed him to return on the major league mound better than ever and throw 220 innings in eight of the next 10 seasons. The right-hander would ultimately go on to play in eight All-Star games, earn two Cy Young Awards (in 2003 with the Blue Jays and in 2010 with the Phillies) and racked-up 203 career wins with 2,749 innings pitched. Halladay also had 67 complete games (49 of those with the Blue Jays) and 20 shutouts, unarguably making him the pitcher in baseball from 2001-2011.
Roy Halladay’s legacy will now shift to a slot under the Cooperstown microscope, which had been hotly debated well before his announcement today. Halladay isn’t leaving the big leagues with that coveted ring or the numbers and longevity that usually go hand in hand with Hall of Fame induction, but there is no question that the HOF has been home to short career players in the past who were too dominant to ignore, as well as many pitchers with worse career winning percentages.
For now, Roy Halladay is expected to join Blue Jays alum Carlos Delgado on the club’s Level of Excellence where the two will be the only players with the honor who did not see the postseason with Toronto.
During the press conference, Halladay stated he has no regrets and now would like to spend more time with his sons, but also added: “Baseball has been so great to me. I still want to find ways to be involved.”
Sportsnet’s Jamie Campbell also tweeted that Roy Halladay will have ongoing discussions with Anthopoulos about joining the Jays in a guest coaching capacity when camp opens.