Roy Halladay who pitched for the Philadelphia Phillies this past season and had currently been a free agent, announced that he was signing a one-day contract with the Toronto Blue Jays and retiring. This news today was a little shocking, but when you think back to how he looked in 2013, one could wonder if this was going to be happening sooner rather than later.
Halladay really seemed to struggle whenever he was pitching this year, and it looked like he was having physical issues. It turns out that one of the reasons he is retiring is because of a bad back. While he probably could have worked his way through this and still be effective, he chose to leave on his own and still on top.
That was a great move by Halladay. Not enough people know when to walk away. Retiring as a Blue Jay, the team that originally drafted him, was also a very classy move.
Halladay was easily one of the best starting pitchers in MLB for over a decade. He could be considered the most feared starter and when you look at his stats, he could be a Hall of Famer someday. The man has a perfect game and a no-hitter in his career. He had 67 complete games and 20 shutouts. Needless to say, he has been extremely impressive for a long period of time. That usually warrants an invitation to Cooperstown.
He ended his career right and was smart by leaving the game probably a year early rather than a year too late. There are many instances one can think of where a top athlete stuck around longer than they should have, and they tarnished their image a bit because their skills declined.
One example is Willie Mays. He is considered perhaps the greatest baseball player of all time. But if you ever get a chance to watch highlights of the 1973 World Series, which was Mays’ last year as an active player, it is painful to watch how much he struggled out in the field.
Halladay left them wanting more, and that’s how it should be. He reminded me of Sandy Koufax, who basically did the same thing. He had been having physical problems and he left when he was still on top — under his own terms. Halladay and Koufax have that in common. Perhaps in five years, being in the Hall of Fame will be something else they will share.