Phillies Ace Roy Halladay to Retire As a Blue Jay

'Doc', a surefire, first-ballot Hall of Famer who came to the National League to win a ring with the Phillies, fell short of that goal but achieved a great deal otherwise.

Roy Halladay retires as a Blue Jay after four, injury-shortened seasons with the Phillies. Photo by SD Dirk via Flickr.
Roy Halladay retires as a Blue Jay after four, injury-shortened seasons with the Phillies. Photo by SD Dirk via Flickr.
Written by Matt Skoufalos

The old gunfighter never got his ring, but Roy 'Doc' Halladay left Philadelphia with his head held high, a pocketful of memories, and four more years of stats to pad the totals a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

As a young player, Halladay knew what it was like to be shelved and to battle back. He credited a minor-league rehab stint early in his career, as well as a little textbook called The Mental ABC's of Pitching, with providing the mental toughness that would become his trademark.

For 12 years, Halladay toiled in Toronto, the staff ace of a Blue Jays team that was never good enough to get over the top. There, along with a 148-76 record, he compiled a reputation for eating innings and fanning batters with his signature cut fastball, a pitch he said he perfected with the help of Mariano Rivera at the 2008 All-Star Game.

When Halladay was acquired by Philadelphia in the 2009 offseason, it was a trade that the fireballer believed gave him the best chance to win a championship. But the Phillies failed to make a third consecutive return to the World Series that year, and that was as tantalizingly close to the goal as Doc would ever get as a player.

Even after GM Ruben Amaro swung a deal that united Halladay with homegrown prospect Cole Hamels, aggressive dealer Roy Oswalt, and Cliff Lee, one of the pieces he'd had to shop to get Doc in the first place, the "Four Aces" staff fell even shorter in 2011, despite comparisons to the best starters of all time.

For Halladay, it was a dream deferred; for Phillies fans, it will stand out as one of the brightest eras in the history of the club with the bleakest win-loss record in professional sports.

Along the way, he mentored younger pitchers like Cole Hamels and Kyle Kendrick. He established a deep rapport with battery-mate Carlos "Chooch" Ruiz. And he was never bigger than the moments he was called to answer.

In four years with the team, Halladay went 55-29, with a 3.25 ERA in 103 starts, striking out 622 batters in 702.2 innings pitched.

Halladay took home the Cy Young Award in 2010, finished second to Clayton Kershaw in the voting for 2011, and was in the top 10 vote-getters for MVP in both seasons.

Fans will surely remember the perfect game Halladay threw against the Marlins—just the 12th in MLB history, in 2010—and for an encore, he tossed the second no-hitter in MLB history in his first postseason start.

As much as fans will delight in those memories, they will also immediately recall the classy way he celebrated. 

After the perfect game, Doc doled out 60 personalized, high-end watches to every member of the team, including clubhouse and front-office personnel.

The message: "We did it together. Thanks, Roy Halladay."

As Doc signs a token, one-day deal with the Blue Jays to retire with the team, Phillies fans can only wish him well, celebrate the moments he gave them, and be grateful for a chance to have seen his brilliance in person for a brief time.


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