12/09/2013 12:43 EST | Updated 02/08/2014 05:59 EST

Right-handed ace Halladay returns to his roots, retires as a Toronto Blue Jay

TORONTO - In the end, Roy Halladay went back to his major-league roots.

Halladay signed a one-day contract with the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday that allowed the veteran right-hander to retire as a member of team with which he broke into the majors and spent the bulk of his distinguished 16-year career.

Halladay made the announcement at a news conference in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., site of the baseball meetings.

"As most people know, I was very lucky to have a lot of people in the organization really develop and help me become the player I was able to become," Halladay said at a press conference . "And (with) the organization and the support of the organization, from the front office to the coaches to the players, it really turned my career around and it made a big difference in my career and that's why I'm very fortunate to retire as a Blue Jay."

Halladay spent his final four major-league seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies and went to great lengths to express his sincere gratitude to that organization and its fans. However, he also said he wouldn't have been able to get a shot with a World Series contender if not for the Blue Jays.

"I want the Phillies organization to know, I want the fans to know how much I enjoyed my time there. How much they meant to me, how much they meant to my family and what a major part of my career they were," he said.

"But to me the biggest thing was had I not been fortunate enough to come up with the Blue Jays and have the people around me that I did and have the people develop me that I did I would've never had that chance."

Halladay was draft 17th overall by Toronto in 1995 and made his major-league debut with an innocuous but telling two games three years later as a September call-up.

His first game as a Blue Jay was unremarkable. In a five-inning start against the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays he gave up three runs and a homer but earned a 7-5 win.

A week later, Halladay went the distance against Detroit. His stat line reads like what Toronto fans would come to expect: nine innings, eight strikeouts, no walks and just run, a homer in the ninth inning of a 2-1 victory.

The dominant starter, however, wouldn't emerge until after several ugly seasons that involved an important trip to the minors. A serviceable season in '99 led to a disastrous 2000 when he finished with a 10.64 earned-run average in just 67 innings pitched.

That was the turning point for Halladay. Instead of giving up on him, Toronto sent him to single-A Dunedin in '01 to rebuild his pitching mechanics. He was promoted through double- and triple-A until returning to the Blue Jays on July 2.

His first game back was ugly — six runs allowed over two-plus innings of relief against Boston. But Toronto kept him in the majors and he started every game the rest of the season, finishing with a complete-game shutout against Cleveland for a respectable 3.16 ERA.

"There was a period of time I didn't know what was going to happen," Halladay said. "Where I probably wasn't as positive as I could be about what my future was going to be.

"But I think through the support of my wife and people in the organization I was able to find people that really helped me see the mental side of it and see the positives and that's really where I felt my career changed."

Halladay never looked back. In 2003 he went 19-7 in '02 with 2.93 ERA in 239.1 innings while earning the first of eight all-star selections. A year later he won his first Cy Young with a spectacular 22-7 record and 3.25 ERA.

Shoulder soreness landed Halladay on the disabled list twice in the '04 campaign but he earned another all-star nod the following year.

Known for superb conditioning and a relentless work ethic, Halladay pitched no less than 220 innings every season between 2006-'11.

But he was unable to lead Toronto into the playoffs. With the Blue Jays languishing in the AL East and Halladay's contract set to expire in 2010, Toronto shipped him to Philadelphia in December 2009 in the first significant move by GM Alex Anthopoulos.

Toronto sent Halladay to the Phillies for minor-league prospects Travis d'Arnaud, Kyle Drabek and Michael Taylor.

"Toronto was hard for me, as much as I loved it there I felt like I needed to make the decision to give myself the chance to get to the playoffs," Halladay said. "Thankfully the fans understood that and were very supportive.

"Hopefully they get a chance to experience that also because it's a tremendous feeling."

Toronto hasn't reached the baseball playoffs since winning its second straight World Series title in '93.

Pitching with a contender certainly agreed with Halladay in 2010.

He threw a perfect game May 29 against the then Florida Marlins. Then, in his first-ever playoff outing, he became the second pitcher ever to throw a no-hitter in the post-season, doing so against Cincinnati.

The Phillies lost to San Francisco in the NLCS that season. His last shot at an elusive World Series title ended when Philadelphia was beaten by St. Louis in the 2011 NLCS, as the Phillies failed to make the playoffs the past two seasons.

Halladay amassed a career record of 203-105 in 416 games, 390 being starts, and an ERA of 3.38.

While many pitchers retire due to recurring shoulder problems, Halladay said he's walking away from the game at a time when his shoulders are feeling strong. But the veteran pitcher admits he's had to battle through back issues the last two seasons that have affected his pitching mechanics.

"I had to change some things, do some things differently to be able to throw the ball and that's led to some shoulder issues," Halladay said. "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 it, it will really hopefully allow me to do some regular things and help out with the kids' teams.

"I want to be active and continue to do the things I enjoy doing. The biggest thing is I'm trying to avoid surgery."

Halladay said he's content walking away from baseball not having won a World Series.

"I'm very fortunate I had a chance to get to the playoffs and experience that atmosphere," he said. "I've always wanted to win a World Series and hopefully down the road I can be a part of it in a different aspect.

"I'm more comfortable knowing that I came a little bit short than to never had got that shot. I feel fortunate that I tried to absorb every minute of it that I could. I really don't have any regrets."

Halladay also wants to be remembered for more than just wins or losses.

"For me it was just not quitting," he said. "I definitely had some bumps in the road and even when things were good, you're going to have some bad days.

"I didn't ever feel like when I took the mound I gave anything less than my best effort . . . and I'm really proud that I feel like I was able to do that."