Roy Oswalt follows Roy Halladay to Valhalla

Doug Pensinger

The second of the 2011 Phillies' four aces has ascended to his waiting throne atop a tractor in the afterlife of baseball, which probably looks a lot like his Mississippi ranch.

Long time Astros ace and 1/4th of the Phillies' 2011 magazine cover, if you don't count Joe Blanton, Roy Oswalt has decided to hang it up.

Here he is telling a story about beating a drifter to death.

"Lil Roy," as he probably would have hated being called to his face, came to the Phillies in 2010, when starting pitching was needed. He was exchanged to Houston for Phillies ace J.A. Happ, Anthony Gose, and future butt-facer Jonathan Villar.

The city adopted that familiar "new guy" buzz as Oswalt prepared to throw as a Phillie for the first time against the Nationals in D.C. He allowed five runs, four earned, and the Phillies lost 8-1. Clearly, the trade was a failure.

Weeks later, when the trade wasn't a failure anymore, Ryan Howard celebrated a 14th inning strikeout with the score tied at two  by trying to separate the head of umpire Scott Barry from the rest of his body. Howard was somehow ejected for this, leaving the Phillies short an infielder. The solution was simple: Move Raul Ibanez to first base. Done and done.

Seconds later, this led to a second, equally dire problem: who would replace Ibanez in the outfield.

The answer, of course, was Roy Oswalt, who snuck into left field and seemed so precocious and coy about it that the already bitter crowd started loosening up and getting behind him, in an attempt to win the game (which happened to be against the Astros) despite the umpire's jackassery. Later, even the Astros on the bench admitted to have joined in the "RO-OY OS-WALT!" cheers.

The first ball of the inning, of course, found Oswalt, who made the catch amid raucous applause and he just couldn't help himself.

Oswalt helped shut down the Reds in the NLDS, following Roy Halladay's no-hitter. In the NLCS, Oswalt bulldozed through a Sam Perlozzo stop sign at third base to score a run and gave the Phillies a two-run lead over the Giants in a series where it always felt like we were coming from behind, even when we were winning.

"If he didn't see the stop sign, I'd be shocked," chuckled Shane Victorino. "But it worked, so it's okay."

The following year, the Phillies reacquired Cliff Lee and Philadelphia did its best not to consume itself with excitement. The highly touted Phillies rotation of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt* mowed through regular season baseball to the tune of a 102-win season, the most for the Phillies franchise ever.

Unfortunately, Oswalt spent a lot of the season nursing back issues, and at one point left the team to help care for his family, who had been in the path of devastating tornadoes in their Mississippi home. He was throwing in the NLDS game against the Cardinals when a squirrel ran across the field and somehow became the inspiration the Cardinals needed to win it all. That squirrel would go on to appear on the World Series ring. I like to think that every time Oswalt blasts the head off a woodland creature from here on out, he's picturing that plague-spewing tree rat.

Through two seasons as a Phillie, Oswalt pitched for a 2.96 ERA, 1.173 WHIP, 166 SO and 54 BB. He won our hearts (and us his) and many baseball games. But we shall not miss him, as he has been immortalized in a continuous loop on the internet.

*and Joe Blanton and then Kyle Kendrick UPDATE: And the begoggled called-3rd strike-master Vance Worley, of course.

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