Ray Gaddis is hanging up the cleats, the Philadelphia Union outside back ending a nine-year professional career on Thursday.
And in a rarity, the entirety of Gaddis’ career was in MLS and with the Union. He retires at 31-years old as the club’s all-time leader in minutes played.
Primarily a right back, Gaddis brought athleticism and good tactical awareness to the Union from the onset. A second round pick of the 2012 MLS Super Draft out of West Virginia, Gaddis had a career that spanned 227 first team appearances for Philadelphia.
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He was a favorite among fans as well as the media.
“I first and foremost want to thank God for allowing me to have the career I’ve had. I’m truly blessed to have played professionally for nine seasons and for the experiences, friendships and unique moments that have come with it,” Gaddis said in a statement issued by the organization.
“Over the course of my career, fans have become family, coaches have become life-long mentors, and my teammates have become brothers. I’d like to thank the Philadelphia Union owners, past and present coaches and teammates, and the Union staff. I also want to give a special thank you to my family, to my lovely wife Violet and to my parents Ricky and Katrina Gaddis, whom without this journey simply would not have been possible. I will miss this organization and my team very much, but I am able to retire knowing I left everything on the pitch and proud of what we have accomplished together. I very much look forward to what the future holds, and, in my heart, I will be forever Philly.”
As impressive as his longevity and solid defense was on the field was Gaddis’ ability to make an impact off the field. His social activism and awareness made an impression that will go on far beyond his solid playing legacy.
In 2020, he was named the Jerry Yeagley Exceptional Personal Achievement Award winner as well being MLS’ Major League Soccer Humanitarian of the Year recipient last season. As a rookie, he won the NAACP Image Award as well.
The honor is given to an athlete “Who through the love of the game of sport show commitment to not only representing ones community but on the playing field values shown by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.”
His longevity on the field was shown through his franchise-leading 18,702 minutes played. In addition, he appeared in 221 matches with 211 starts.
Despite this mass of minutes and matches played, Gaddis has not scored a goal in MLS play. He also, despite the glut of minutes in a very physical position, never received a red card.