LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Amidst the trade rumors, free agent signings and schmoozing that characterizes baseball’s annual Winter Meetings (taking place this year at the Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel in Orlando), former Blue Jays and Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay announced his retirement at a press conference on Monday morning. The Blue Jays announced that the 36-year old two-time Cy Young Award winner and eight-time All-Star would sign a one-day contract in order to retire as a member of the team for whom he quietly and dominantly took the mound for 12 of his 16 major league seasons. Later on Monday afternoon, Toronto manager John Gibbons, Halladay’s skipper from 2004-2008 in Toronto (and who the team rehired prior to the 2013 season) reflected on the possible Hall of Famer’s legacy as a player and as a Blue Jay.
On Halladay as an individual:
“First thing Doc’s a first class individual. He’s a rarity in this business and in life. He’s one of those special guys that comes along, that doesn’t come along that often. To be able to play just a very small part of his career is an honor for me.”
On Halladay’s famous reticence:
“Doc never said a whole lot. On the days he pitched he never said a word. On the days he didn’t pitch, he might say 15 or 20 in passing but he always approached it with a professionalism that most guys don’t carry.”
On Halladay’s competitiveness:
“Great competitor. He made some comments today that he just willed himself to win. He talked about today that 9-8 game he won in Detroit and that pretty much sums it up. Never give in, never quit.”
On managing Halladay:
“That one thing he was talking about his complete games and always pitching late in the game, that’s who he was, he was the best in the business during his time. That’s the number one job of the manager probably the most important in my opinion, what you do with the pitcher — when you make the change or what have you. And any time when he was pitching, if you’d take a step out to the mound, he’d look over at you and you’d kind of question yourself going to the mound every now and then. He was one guy you didn’t signal right away — sometimes you wait and go out and talk to them or something but he’d always give you that quick glance what are you doing here? He’d always back you up, good or bad, whether the move worked or backfired. But it was always an intimidating sight — he’s not out there sitting at 5’11 either. Doc was one of those guys I think you owed it to him to explain — the reason I took you out was this or that. You don’t necessarily do that with everybody.”
On Halladay retiring as a Blue Jay:
“He was a special guy and I’m glad he retired a Blue Jay. I thought for a minute when I heard he was signing a contract he was coming back!” [laughter]
Photo via Amanda Rykoff
Amanda Rykoff will be covering the Winter Meetings this week for The Outside Corner. Follow @amandarykoff for Twitter updates.