Thirteen seasons, 1,475 hits, 382 home runs, 1,194 RBI, three All-Star selections, and a World Series titles.

Not a bad career for Ryan Howard, who contributed much more to the Philadelphia Phillies beyond those six things I picked out above.

The 38-year-old longtime Phil officially announced his retirement today in a Players’ Tribune article titled, “Thank You, Philly,” which is even more of a mandatory read than last week’s fantastic Joel Embiid piece. 

Howard covers a lot of topics in the article, explaining how he wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from fans on his Phillies debut:

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.

But you also have to understand: Things were a little different back then. The “drought,” man, that was real. When I came up, it had been over two decades since a Philly team had won a title in a major sport. There’d been more than a few heartbreakers over the years. And so those fans, you know…. to me, I’d always thought they were maybe a little misunderstood. Because if there’s one thing that I was always able to relate to as a player, it was hunger. From Little League, to college ball, to the Draft, to my path through the minors, and feeling like I was ready for my shot at the majors before that shot would come: I came up as a player with a sort of permanent hunger inside of me. The hunger to prove people wrong.

That fervor was nothing but positive when Howard stepped up for the plate for the first time, batting for Vicente Padilla in the 5th inning of a September game against the Atlanta Braves in 2004:

Man….. the crowd just ROARED.

I mean, I’ve never heard anything like it. Those fans at Citizens Bank — they erupted for me. It really felt like all of Philly was there.

This might sound weird, but it honestly felt like they were trying to tell me something, that day, in a way. Like they were telling me, You think YOU’VE been waiting for this moment?! Well, now you know how much WE’VE been waiting for this moment, too.

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.

He was certainly a part of that, “that” being the greatest generation of Phillies baseball. Feels like it was just yesterday that Howard and Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins and Cole Hamels were mowing down teams left and right, yet here we are now 10 years after the World Series writing about the retirements of half the team.

But the article is great; Howard talks about the meeting on the mound prior to the final strikeout of the 2008 World Series. He talks about his first home run and his son and the up and down nature of his career.

Go check it out, but first take 2:37 out of your day to relive what might be my favorite Big Piece moment, from his 2006 NL MVP season: