Earlier this week Roy Halladay surprised us all when he decided to announce his retirement from baseball. The man known as “Doc” left behind one of the most remarkable pitching careers of our generation playing for the Toronto Blue Jays and our hometown Phillies. Although the majority of his career was spent north of the border his time in Philadelphia was nothing short of memorable.
I recall like it was yesterday when the Phillies landed Halladay in a deal following their 2009 season which resulted in a World Series loss to the Yankees. After spending his first 12 major league seasons with Toronto, Halladay was acquired via a trade for a group of Phillies minor league prospects. At that time Halladay without a doubt was the premier pitcher in baseball and we were lucky enough to land him. The city was full of excitement thinking about the possibilities of having Halladay in a rotation with 2008 World Series MVP Cole Hamels.
During his 2010-2011 seasons with the Phillies Halladay was downright dominant. After competing for so many years in the American League East, which is without a doubt the toughest division in baseball and consisted of top contenders like the Yankees/Red Sox/and Rays, Halladay had a cakewalk coming to the National League East pitching against the likes of the Nationals/Marlins/Mets. During those first 2 seasons in Phillies pin stripes Halladay had a remarkable 40-16 record with a 2.40 ERA. During his retirement press conference he called his time in Philly “icing on the cake” to his career. During those first two seasons in Philly the Phillies finished with an NLCS loss to the Giants and a division series loss to the Cardinals, both went on to win the World Series each of those seasons.
Former Phillies teammates such as Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and others commented on Halladay’s retirement and the one regret from all of them was the fact they didn’t deliver a World Series during his time in Philly. It was a shame because Halladay left Toronto seeking that Championship ring and at the time the Phillies clearly were the best option for that. They had just come off a World Series Championship in 2008 and a World Series appearance in 2009 so adding Halladay figured to be the key to winning another one. But it wasn’t the case as the offense sputtered during the postseason in 2010 and 2011.
Halladay never even sniffed the playoffs with the Blue Jays finishing towards the bottom of the AL East almost every season he was with them so when you stop and think about it he at least had the opportunity to pitch in the playoffs while in Philly. Not only did Halladay receive the chance to pitch in the post-season while in Philly but two of the greatest pitching performances in the history of baseball took place while in the pinstripes both in 2010. During May of that season Halladay pitched a perfect game against the Marlins. He then went on to pitch a no-hitter in game 1 of the division series against the Reds which was only the 2nd no hitter ever recorded in postseason history and also his first ever post-season start. I was lucky enough to be in attendance at Citizens Bank Park for that game. It was probably one of the greatest sporting events I ever attended and probably will stay that way as long as I’m alive. It was an absolute honor to have the privilege to not only watch Doc pitch at any game I attended that season but to see him complete a no hitter in person was something I’ll never forget.
Halladay’s first two seasons in Philly were magical but his last two seasons in 2012-2013 were the absolute opposite. Both seasons were filled with injuries and long stints on the DL. When actually healthy enough to pitch during those seasons Halladay struggled through shoulder issues. His velocity decreased and his command was off. It was clear he was cooked at this point. Halladay was always known for a tremendous work ethic always showing up first to the ballpark and usually the last one to depart. It appeared years and years of tireless workouts and training finally caught up with the Doc. At the conclusion of last season he became a free agent and we knew the possibilities of him returning to the Phillies were remote and most assumed he’d sign on with another team.
In the end I’m glad Halladay made the decision to retire rather than latch on to another team as a 4 or 5 starter. It wouldn’t have felt right to watch him pitch on another team as anything other than a dominant ace we knew him for over the years and he allowed us the fans to not have to endure the pain of watching him struggle to compete. Halladay signed a one day contract on Monday December 9th with his original team the Blue Jays to retire as one of them. At first I didn’t really think highly of that decision but when you stop and think about it he spent 12 seasons in Toronto as opposed to only 4 in Philly which only 2 of those 4 seasons were actually great seasons. Toronto deserved to have him retire as one of them. At the end of the day Doc provided both cities with countless memories that will last a lifetime for baseball fans around the globe.
Halladay’s final career numbers include a 203-105 record and a 3.38 ERA. He pitched 2,749 innings striking out 2,117 batters and walking just 592 of them which is the 16th best strikeout to walk ratio in baseball history. He won two Cy Young awards, one with Toronto and one with the Phillies. He made 8 all-star teams. Halladay twice led his league in wins, led in innings 4 times, and had the fewest walks in his league 3 times as well as most complete games in a season 7 different seasons. I’d say those are pretty remarkable stats for a guy that never won a World Series. I fully expect Halladay to be a first ballot hall of fame once he becomes eligible. I’m just glad I had the opportunity to watch him pitch in person. Cheers to you Roy Halladay and Thank You for gracing the Philadelphia baseball fan with your dominance.