In a Player's Tribune post published Tuesday morning titled "Thank you, Philly," Ryan Howard announced his retirement from baseball.
"It's been a wild ride … and I'm glad that I got to stay on it for as long as I did," he wrote. "Which I guess has really also kind of become my overall perspective on things: How, when it's come to these last 14 years of mine — nothing has ever been easy for long, and nothing has ever been perfect for long.
"But I wouldn't have it any other way."
The first baseman played his entire major-league career with the Phillies, earning rookie of the year in 2005 and making three All-Star Games (2006, 2009 and 2010). He was named National League MVP in 2006 and, of course, was part of the 2008 World Series-champion team.
He last played in the majors in 2016. After being drafted by the Phillies in the fifth round in 2001, he spent four years in the minors before his call-up Sept. 1, 2004, a date he notes is almost 14 years to the day he's officially retiring.
After being granted free agency by the Phillies in November 2016 — 15 years after he was drafted — he was twice signed as a free agent. In 2017, he spent a month playing for the Gwinnett Braves, Atlanta's triple-A team, and another three months with the Albuquerque Isotopes, the Rockies' triple-A affiliate.
In his post, he detailed what he heard about Philly sports fans: "It was basically the same advice from everyone, over and over: Philadelphia's tough. And if you want to survive there? You have to get tough, too."
He thought differently, though: "I saw Philly as having that hunger to win — same as mine."
Howard told the story of the way the crowd greeted him upon his first at-bat (a pinch-hit appearance for pitcher Vicente Padilla), saying, "It's like they were telling me, You're family, now. You're one of us. And this special thing that we've got going here — starting tonight, you're a part of that."