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Today in Blue Jays History: Roy Halladay retires

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The then-36-year-old made the decision public on December 9, 2013

New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

The late Roy Halladay — perhaps the best pitcher in Toronto Blue Jays’ history — announced his retirement on this date in 2013, signing a symbolic one-day contract with Toronto to end his career as a Blue Jay.

Halladay, who died in a plane crash in 2017, retired after a 16-year career, 12 of which were spent with the Blue Jays. Over his career, he won two Cy Young Awards — one with Toronto and one with the Philadelphia Phillies — and appeared in eight All-Star games.

Doug Glanville, a former MLB player writing for ESPN on the day of the announcement, defended Halladay’s decision to retire with the Blue Jays.

So let Halladay be a Blue Jay. That’s where he found his chops, where he turned opponents into pork chops. Sure, Phillies fans should forever be grateful to him and have expressed and will continue to express that sentiment, but they don’t really have first dibs on the man who became the Doc. He had already been to med school and finished his residency by the time the Phillies got to enjoy his practice, his game. In retiring with Toronto, he is just honoring those who taught him how to cut.

With the Blue Jays, in 2003, Halladay pitched 266 innings, posted a FIP of 3.25 and had a league-leading strikeout-to-walk ratio of 6.38 on his way to his first Cy Young Award.

In 2012 and 2013, the final two years of his career, Halladay faced shoulder and back injuries that lowered his velocity and limited his effectiveness. Despite leading the league in strikeout-to-walk ratio from 2008 to 2011, he posted a ratio of 1.42 in 2013, the lowest since 2000 and third lowest of his career.

Halladay underwent surgery on his right shoulder in May of 2013, but still struggled after his return.

At his retirement press conference he said:

But the major issue for me is, as I mentioned to some of the media last spring, was my back really became an issue for me. I have two pars fractures, an eroded disk between the L4, and L5, and there is a significant setback in there to where the nerves are being pinched, and really, it’s just made it hard to pitch with the mechanics I want to pitch with. So over the last two seasons, I’ve had to change some things, do some things different to be able to throw the ball, and unfortunately, that’s led to some shoulder issues. But the big thing has really been the back. Speaking with doctors, they feel like at this point, if I can step away and take some of that high level pressure off of it, it will hopefully allow me to do some regular things and help out with the kids’ teams. I’m trying to find a 35 and over basketball league. My wife’s already shaking her head.

“It’s hard to look past that sometimes and turn the page on something you love so much. But I think looking down the road and seeing my sons in the same situation I was in when I was their age and having dreams of things they want to achieve, I realized that this needs to become a priority for me and the best way for me to do that is to retire and not continue to put the strain on my body and get myself in a situation where they have to help me stand up to throw batting practice. So that was a big factor for me

At the time of his retirement, Halladay was at the top of many Blue Jays franchise leader boards, as he still is today. He ranked second in strikeouts and shutouts, and third in ERA and innings pitched. His winning percentage of .661 was the highest in club history.

Doc seemed to be enjoying his retirement. He had fun on social media, helped coach his son’s baseball team and, of course, enjoyed flying. It is sad that he didn’t get to enjoy retirement for many more years.

As sad as his death was, hearing his teammates and family tell us that he wasn’t just a great baseball player but also a great person and friend was nice.