Reflecting on the life of Phillies and Blue Jays pitcher Roy Halladay, who died in a plane crash
Roy Halladay was a special once in a lifetime talent and human being
When you think of baseball, there are a select number of individuals you associate the game with. From Ruth to DiMaggio to Seaver to Ripken, each player left a lasting impact on the sport. Whether it’s due to records broken or who they were as a person, these people were feared and beloved by everyone around them. Roy Halladay was considered one of those people by many. Unfortunately, we’ll never be able to hear him talk about his dominant glory days, as the 40-year old died in a plane crash near the Gulf of Mexico early Tuesday.
The news comes as a shock to the entire baseball community. One of the most dominant pitchers of the 21st century, who retired after the 2013 season, is no longer with us. It’s times like these that we reflect on a man like Roy Halladay. There are three things that fans of Roy knew about him: his love for the game, his family and friends and of course, planes.
Roy Halladay’s dominance has an interesting start to it. The Colorado-born pitcher was drafted in the first round of the 1995 MLB amateur draft by the Toronto Blue Jays, the 17th overall pick. In his 12 years up in Canada, he had some true up and down moments. After posting an 8-7 record in the 1999 season with a modest 3.92 ERA, Halladay fell flat in 2000. He had a 10.64 ERA, bad enough to get demoted down to Class A ball. The story goes that Halladay, frustrated with how things turned out, changed his ways thanks to minor league pitching coach Mel Queen. He adjusted his arm and added a killer cutter that ended up haunting hitters for years.
He returned in 2001 and by 2002 was showing the world who he truly was. Halladay went 19-7 in 2002, striking out 168 while boasting a 2.93 ERA. The next year? A 22-7 record with 204 strikeouts, nine complete games, two shutouts and a Cy Young to boot. Once considered dead in the water, Halladay had a 12-year career with the Blue Jays. His record? 148-75, 1,495 strikeouts, 49 complete games, 15 shutouts and a 3.43 ERA. Halladay was the king of the world, albeit without a playoff contending team behind him.
Before the 2010 season, at age 33, Halladay was traded to the Phillies, a team two years removed from a World Series win. This time, the National League was able to get a taste of what the American League dreaded for several years. The question on everyone’s mind was simple: how would Halladay fair in a new league? The answer was simple: it wasn’t that hard for him. He pitched a perfect game against the Marlins, the first of his career. It was a moment to last a lifetime, but Halladay didn’t stop there.
In his first ever postseason game, Roy Halladay pitched a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds. I remember sitting at home, mesmerized by how smooth “The Doctor” was throwing. It took me a while to realize what was happening in the 6th inning, that I was watching history. I couldn’t look away as each inning went by. When the 9th inning commenced, I was on the edge of my bed. As the final out was recorded, I was off of it. Two moments to last a lifetime, all in one season.
Oh, and FYI, Halladay went 21-10 in 2010 with a 2.44 ERA. He struck out 219 batters while walking only 30! Nine complete games and four more shutouts brought him his second CY Young Award.
One of my favorite memories when it comes to Roy Halladay was with my dad. After the last day of high school, my old man and I drove straight to Philadelphia to start our annual stadium tours. We decided Citizens Bank Ballpark was the best place to start. Pitching that game? Roy Halladay against Carlos Zambrano of the Cubs. Watching him pitch with the crowd buzzing at everything he did was a mesmerizing moment that I will never forget. I dreaded the early days when the Phillies came to Flushing because there was a chance Halladay would face the Mets, but I couldn’t help but respect how dominant he was.
While the rest of his career with the Phillies was not as promising as everyone hoped for due to injuries, Halladay always stuck through the pain. After the 2013 season, Halladay signed a one-day contract with the Blue Jays and retired with the team that gave him his first break, and who could very well be on his cap when he eventually heads to Cooperstown once eligible after 2018.
Need proof he is a Hall of Famer? It’s in the pudding, as Halladay was untouchable whenever he wanted to be. His 67 complete games and 20 shutouts, culminating in a 203-105 record, will never be repeated.
Friends, Family and his planes
Roy Halladay might have been one of the most friendliest players in the game. Just by checking social media, players fans and family members had nothing but nice things to say about him. Whether it was pranking fans, or caring for young children, Halladay always knew what was right. He loved his wife and kids, and it’s tough to imagine what they are going through.
Family meant everything to him. The Halladay Family Foundation was made to provide funding for children’s charities, hunger relief and animal rescue. Besides pitching, that foundation was Halladay’s gift to the world.
After he was perfect against the Marlins, Halladay didn’t want to make it all about him. He presented his teammates, all of them, with Swiss-made Baume and Mercier watches. The boxes that carried the watches stated, We did it together. Thanks, Roy Halladay, while the watch was engraved with the special day. That was the type of man Halladay was.
He was also obsessed with planes, which unfortunately led to his untimely death. Happy he could ever be once he was finally allowed to get his license, Halladay was driven to do whatever it took to do what he loved.
This man will forever be remembered as a unique talent. He uplifted two cities going through times of transitional periods. The man made pitching in baseball exciting at a time when the steroid era was heating up and just starting to wind down. A once in a lifetime pitcher and an overall good person, we salute the memory of the great doctor himself, Roy Halladay.