Ryan Howard salutes Phillies, fans before final game with club

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Monday, October 3, 2016

Ryan Howard thanked Philadelphia Phillies fans and the organization and saluted his teammates in an emotional speech during a pregame ceremony Sunday before his final game with the team.

The 2006 National League MVP choked up a few times and fought back tears when he told the crowd: "My family has grown with all of you.''

Howard, who turns 37 next month, is the last player remaining from the Phillies' 2008 World Series championship team. The Phillies are planning to pay Howard a $10 million buyout instead of exercising a $23 million club option for 2017.

"It's amazing, the appreciation from the organization and the fans,'' Howard said. "To have it recognized, it'll live with me forever.''

Howard was 0-for-4 in the Phillies' 5-2 victory over the New York Mets, but he received several standing ovations and got a curtain call after popping out in the eighth. He finished the season with a .196 batting average but hit 25 homers, tying Maikel Franco for the team lead.

Howard got a final ovation after Tommy Joseph replaced him to start the ninth. He embraced Joseph near first base while Phillies and Mets players clapped. Howard then walked through the dugout and hugged everyone before coming out to wave to the fans.

"I didn't know what to expect,'' Howard said. "Seeing the people and the videos, it hit me all at once. It was great. Philadelphia will always be home.''

Howard said he isn't ready to call it a career, especially after a strong finish -- he hit .267 with 11 homers and 29 RBIs in only 101 at-bats from Aug. 1 on.

"I know there's more in the tank,'' he said. "I'll know when it's time.''

The Associated Press contributed to this report.