"I don't think that's possible," Halladay said with disappointment Monday at the winter meetings.
Toronto, where Halladay got his start in professional baseball, it is.
A two-time Cy Young winner who pitched a perfect game and a postseason no-hitter for the Phillies in 2010, announced he is retiring after signing a one-day contract with Toronto. Halladay went 203-105 with a 3.38 ERA, 2,117 strikeouts, 67 complete games and 20 shutouts for the Phillies and Jays.
His chances for the Hall of Fame probably should be described as "possible," if not likely. He used the dais at Disney World to reminisce about a fabulous career that ended because of injuries. Halladay said he has two pars fractures, plus an eroded disk between the L‑4 and L‑5 vertebrates. His shoulder bothered him because he tried to compensate for his back hurting. His voice cracked from time to time as he went over the past.
"I didn't ever feel like when I took the mound that I gave anything less than my best effort," Halladay said. "Sometimes it sounds cliché, it sounds easy enough, but when things aren't going your way, when there are other things in the back of your head going on, it's not easy to always go out there and give everything you have. I'm really proud of the fact that I feel like I was able to do that."
Halladay had a 6.82 ERA in 13 starts for the Phillies in 2013. Able to throw fastballs only in the low 80s in his final start, Halladay sought medical solutions but was prescribed only rest. Back surgery would be much more invasive than he wanted. And if he stopped playing baseball, he could avoid it and still play with his kids in relatively good health. He was finishing up a three-year, $20 million deal with Philly. He never won the World Series he sought, but he was glad to have tried.
"I was kind of dreading Philadelphia, but you guys (in the media) aren't as bad as they say you are, so I appreciate it," Halladay said.
Halladay's signature moment came in the National League Division Series against the Cincinnati Reds in '10 when he pitched a no-hitter. It was his first career postseason appearance after 11 seasons with the Blue Jays. Halladay had pitched a perfect game earlier in the regular season. He won the NL Cy Young that season, also winning in '03 with the Jays.
Reporter Shi Davidi of Sportsnet in Canada writes that all of Halladay's successes might not have happened if the Blue Jays hadn't reconstructed Halladay's physical and mental approach earlier in his career:
His ascension to stardom was derailed by struggles so severe in 2000 and early 2001 that the Blue Jays sent him all the way down to single-A, where pitching guru Mel Queen rebuilt his delivery and mental approach to the game.
Halladay returned midway through the 2001 season and never looked back, throwing at least 220 innings in eight of the next 10 seasons (forearm problems cut his season short in 2004 while a fractured leg ruined a brilliant 2005).
And that's why Halladay picked the Jays for his retirement.
"That's really where I felt like my career changed," Halladay said.
All of Halladay's GMs attended — Gord Ash, J.P. Ricciardi, Alex Anthopoulos and Ruben Amaro. And two of his managers — John Gibbons and Ryne Sandberg. Halladay hugged them all.
He thanked teammates like Pat Hentgen, Chris Carpenter and Roger Clemens. He thanked Buzz Campbell for scouting and mentoring him. He thanked sports psychologist Harvey Dorfman for counseling him and helping him get a grip on the mental part of pitching that helped make Halladay a star.
"There are so many others," Halladay said. "I couldn't name them all."
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