Veteran pitcher Roy Halladay signed a one-day contract with the Toronto Blue Jays Monday in order to retire with the team that drafted him in the first round nearly 20 years ago.

Halladay signed the contract and announced his retirement at Major League Baseball’s winter meetings in Orlando, Fla.

Halladay had a stellar 12-year career with the Blue Jays, posting a 148-76 record and 3.43 ERA, and winning the 2003 American League Cy Young Award. The team drafted him in 1995.

“I was very lucky to have a lot of people in that organization really develop and help me become the player that I was able to become,” Halladay told reporters Monday afternoon. “And without the organization’s support…from the front office to the coaches to the players, it really turned my career around and it really made a big difference in my career. I’m really fortunate to retire as a Blue Jay.”

Blue Jays president and CEO Paul Beeston released a statement calling Halladay one of the most professional and dominant pitchers of his generation, saying the Toronto Blue Jays are very proud and honoured he will retire as a member of the organization.

"His talent and determination led our club for many years on the field and his work ethic provided an example for all to follow,” Beeston said.

“He also contributed generously in the community, through the Jays Care Foundation and his own initiatives like 'Doc's Box' for patients at Hospital for Sick Children to attend games. Congratulations to Roy on a tremendous career."

Halladay was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies before the 2010 season, after which he was named the NL Cy Young winner. Halladay had pitched a perfect game that season, on May 29, and a no-hitter in his first playoff start, on Oct. 6.

Halladay said he would “love” to retire as a member of both teams, and called the Phillies organization and its fans “a major part of my career.”

“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 have never had that chance to play for the Phillies.”

Halladay left Toronto for a shot at a World Series, and was a part of two post-season teams his first two years with the Phillies. However they fell short each time, and the Phillies missed the playoffs the past two years.

Shoulder and back problems began affecting his performance, and Halladay said Monday that it was a number of issues with his back, including an eroded disc and pinched nerves, that ultimately led to his decision to leave the game.

“It’s so much fun to play the game and to go out and to compete and I looked forward to that fifth day more than anything,” Halladay said.

“To go out there and know it’s probably not going to feel very good and I’m not going to be able to do things the way I want to do them was very frustrating. And not only personally, but I felt like there was a certain responsibility that I owed to my teammates, to the organization and so that part was definitely very challenging for me.”

Halladay said the increase in his physical limitations, although it appeared sudden, “was more steady than people knew.”

Halladay said his decision to retire was also influenced by the fact that his sons “are starting to strive for their dreams, and it’s something I want to be a part of.”

On the table in front of him as he spoke were both Blue Jays and Phillies caps, and also the two caps of his sons’ teams.

“I’m helping out coaching,” he said. “I’m trying not to ruin them. I’m doing the best I can.”

Halladay joked that he was also on the lookout for an over-35 basketball team.

“I want to be active, do the things I enjoy doing, spend time with my family,” Halladay said.

“You realize there are new things for you to accomplish in life, and it became time to start going after those things.”

Halladay said he will look for ways to stay active in baseball, but did not offer details about specific opportunities, if any, that he is pursuing.

He said he wants to find ways to “hopefully pass on things that I learned. And not so much the pitching part or the mental part, but things other players have taught me about being a good person, about playing the game the right away, about being respectful to the game, to your teammates, to the organizations you play for.”

Halladay’s career totals include a 203-105 record in 390 starts, a 3.38 ERA and 2,117 strikeouts.

Halladay is second all-time among Blue Jays pitchers in wins with 148, strikeouts with 1,495, and shutouts with 15. He is third all-time in ERA (3.43), starts (287), complete games (49) and innings pitched (2,046.2). He is one of two Blue Jays to have had two 20-win seasons, the other being Roger Clemens.

The eight-time all-star also had the most wins of any Blue Jay pitcher in the 2003 season, with 22.

With files from The Canadian Press