That dang Rally Squirrel still haunts Roy Halladay.
Citing a desire to avoid surgery for an ailing back and wanting to spend more time with his family, the two-time Cy Young Award winner retired Monday after 16 seasons in the major leagues with the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies.
Halladay signed a one-day contract to retire as a member of the Blue Jays, where he spent the first 12 years of his career. The 36-year-old right-hander choked up and held back tears while making the announcement at a news conference at the winter meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
"As a baseball player, you realize that's something you can't do the rest of your life," Halladay said. "I really don't have any regrets. You realize there's other things for you to accomplish in life."
Halladay pitched a perfect game and also a postseason no-hitter. But never made it to the World Series and leaves without the ring he badly wanted.
The Phillies had already won three straight division championships, the 2008 World Series and 2009 NL championship by the time Halladay arrived in a blockbuster trade the same day Philadelphia sent ace Cliff Lee to Seattle in a separate deal.
The Phillies had the best record in the majors in Halladay's first two seasons, but lost to San Francisco in the 2010 NLCS and St. Louis Cardinals in the 2011 NL division series. In his final postseason performance, Halladay lost to Chris Carpenter and the Cardinals 1-0 in the decisive Game 5 of that 2011 matchup.
Down 2-1 in the series, the Cardinals won two straight to upset the Phillies after a squirrel scampered across home plate as Skip Schumaker batted against Roy Oswalt.
"I think the one thing I took away from that is you can have the best team on paper, you can have the guys who want it the most," Halladay said. "But when the squirrel runs across home plate while your team is trying to pitch, there is nothing you can do about that. So you really start to realize there are a lot of things out of your control. It takes more than nine guys. It takes nine guys, and it takes the 25 on the roster. It takes the coaches, the staff, and it takes a lot of luck."
Halladay played for the Phillies from 2010-13, finishing with two injury-plagued seasons. He won an NL Cy Young Award in 2010, throwing a perfect game that season and a no-hitter in his first postseason appearance.