The best moment in Lidge's career came on the Citizens Bank Park pitcher's mound in a Phillies uniform, and he officially retired there in red pinstripes on Thursday. The closer spent four seasons in Philadelphia after six in Houston, but chose to ceremonially call it quits as a Phillie.
Before the Phillies took the field Thursday, Lidge, for one final time, jogged out of the Phillies' bullpen. This time to deliver the first pitch, rather than the last. Lidge's entrance music, Drowning Pool's "Soldiers" played and he received a standing ovation before firing a strike to Ruiz, of course.
"This decision, for me, I thought a little bit about, but it became easier and easier the more I thought about my memories here," Lidge said.
Lidge had a season for the ages five years ago when he not only was a perfect 41-for-41 in save situations during the regular season, but saved seven postseason games without a hitch to help the Phillies win their first World Series since 1980.
"That [World Series-clinching] game and that postseason will forever stand out for me," Lidge said at a Thursday afternoon press conference. "And occasionally if I see MLB Network is showing classic games, and they have that one on, sure I'll watch it. I do think about it, of course. That memory is still really vivid for me."
Lidge struggled in 2009, and also dealt with injuries in his final few seasons with the Phillies. For the most part, however, he was well received in Philadelphia, which he attributed to some final-inning magic.
"The ninth inning, it kind of makes people feel alive a little bit," Lidge said. "It's the inning where everyone is on their feet. You're going through it as a player, but the fans are going through it and are extremely invested in a game you are already winning. And everyone has that anticipation of being able to cheer for a victory. So, they're kind of going through it with me, and that creates a bond."
Lidge, 36, spent a short time with the Nationals last year, but has not pitched in the Majors since last June. He said he did miss the competitive aspect of closing, but added he has been spending much more time with his family. His wife and two children accompanied him to the ballpark Thursday.
In an 11-year career, Lidge recorded 225 saves -- 100 of which came in a Phillies uniform. Phillies fans got familiar with Lidge's entrance music in his four-season stint. But he joked he doesn't listen to that song too often these days.
"We don't really play that one around the house too much," Lidge said, laughing. "We usually have Jack Johnson or something more low-key around the house. But that song certainly brings back memories."
In addition to closing, Lidge was a good clubhouse presence for the Phillies, and also made himself available to the media -- win or lose. Manager Charlie Manuel called Lidge a "stand-up guy," while general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Lidge is a class act.
"He took a tremendous amount of responsibility for things if they didn't work out," Amaro said. "For us as an organization, with his teammates and for this city, he earned a great deal of respect, not just because he went perfect in '08, but dealing with some of the issues -- the injuries and the performance -- in subsequent years. And I think that is what sets him apart as a person."