October 02, 2016

WATCH: Ryan Howard delivers emotional speech, fans give him standing ovation before first at-bat

They gave Jimmy Rollins a long ovation. They gave Chase Utley a long ovation. The circumstances were a bit different on Sunday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park, but you bet that Phillies fans were going to give Ryan Howard a long ovation.

But first, during a pregame ceremony honoring the Big Piece, Howard became emotional while addressing the crowd.

"I just want to thank you guys, the fans, again for making this all possible," he said. "For making it fun. We had some good runs, didn't we?"

"This city as a whole, man," he later added, fighting back tears. "I want to thank you because I've grown with all of you. My family has grown with all of you."


Even though Howard’s departure isn’t completely official yet, it’s viewed as a given that the Phillies will not pick up his $23 million option for 2017, instead opting to hand over a $10 million buyout.

With Howard wrapping up his career in Philadelphia, the final member of the 2008 World F$@%!^& Champions has left the organization. Long live Philadelphia’s only champion in the major four sports of the last 33 years.



The Phillies presented Howard with a few gifts during Sunday's pregame ceremony, with Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, chairman David Montgomery, ownership partner John Middleton, and even Howard's teenage son, Darian Howard, taking part in the festivities. Among the gifts was a replica of the plaque the Phillies placed amid the left field seats where Howard hit his franchise record 58th home run during his MVP season of 2006.



Here is Howard's speech, thanking the Phillies organization, his teammates, and the fans, in its entirety:

This is crazy.

[applause]

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.

 [applause]

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? 

 [applause]

 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. (cries, stops)

 [applause]

 My family has grown with all of you. 

 [applause]

 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.

 [applause]

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.


Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hoffman