Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard was honored by the organization and fans with a 15-minute ceremony before the final game of the season that celebrated his time here in Philadelphia.
Howard (who is not expected to return next season) was honored with a video tribute showing many of his career highlights. He was also informed that a plaque was being placed in Section 145, Row 7 to mark the spot where his club-record 58th home run landed in 2006. He also received a replica of that plaque as well as hand-painted glove from the Phillies.
After all that, the Big Piece emotionally addressed the crowd:
This is crazy.
All this has kind of come up on me really fast. I really didn't know what I was going to say.
[Fan: We love you, Ryan!]
I love you, too.
I just want to thank you guys, the fans, again for making this all possible. For making it fun. We had some good runs, didn't we?
I'm just a laid-back cat from St. Louis out here trying to play ball. That's it. It's been fun, man, these last 12 years. You guys all made it possible. The Phillies, I want to thank you guys for taking a kid in the fifth round out of, well now it's Missouri State, but Southwest Missouri State University. Giving me the opportunity. This city as a whole, man. I want to thank you because I've grown with all of you.
My family has grown with all of you.
On behalf of my teammates, I want to thank you guys for coming out and supporting us all year. I know it's been up and down and crazy, but these guys have really worked their butts off to try to be the best that they can each day and each night on this field. To my teammates, I salute you.
I don't really have too much more than that, man. This is great. Thank you again from the bottom of my heart. Let's play this game, man. Let's play this game.
Every time Howard came up to bat throughout the game...he was met with a standing ovation. When he was pulled from the game in the top of the ninth inning, he was able to receive one last standing ovation from the Phillies fans.
With Howard's imminent departure...the era of success from 2007-2011 sadly comes to an end. I wish you luck for the remainder of your career Big Man and I look forward to the day your Wall of Fame plaque is placed in Citizens Bank Park. You will always be a Phillie to me! Thank you, Big Piece!
Talk to you soon,