Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

Halladay returns for opener at Rogers Centre

TORONTO -- Roy Halladay was back on familiar territory Friday night as he threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the Blue Jays' home opener vs the Yankees.

It marked Halladay's first return to Rogers Centre since he officially retired in December following 16 years in the Major Leagues. He will go down as one of the all-time greats to wear the Blue Jays' uniform and ranks near the top of almost every major pitching category in franchise history.

Halladay went on to have a lot of success with the Phillies after being traded following the 2009 season, but he paid his respect to Toronto by signing a one-day contract during the offseason and officially retiring as a Blue Jay.

"I feel like I'm paying my respects to the fans," Halladay said of his return. "They were always very supportive and when I came back and pitched here after going to Philadelphia, get the welcome that I did, I honestly feel like I'm here to show my respect to the fans, but it's nice to hear the applause and be appreciated."

Halladay ranks second all-time in Blue Jays history with 148 wins, 1,495 strikeouts and 15 shutouts. He's also third with 2,246 2/3 innings, a 3.43 ERA and 287 starts.

For a stretch of eight years in Toronto, Halladay was easily regarded as one of the most dominant and consistent pitchers in the game. He defined baseball in the city during the early 2000s, and it's only a matter of time before he gets added to the club's Level of Excellence.

The one regret during Halladay's tenure in Toronto is that he never made the postseason. That changed when he went to the Phillies in 2010 and while there's still ties to both organizations Halladay made the decision to retire as a Blue Jay because it's the organization he grew up with.

"My roots are here, my roots are with the Blue Jays, and I really feel like this was a major almost...all my career, really," Halladay said. "I felt like this was the whole dinner, the whole meal, everything. Philly was the chocolate cake at the end. It really was the major part of my baseball career here, I really feel like this is where I belong, but I feel like in Philadelphia it was a nice treat so I really enjoyed being there. But this is where my roots really are."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB.
Read More: Toronto Blue Jays