Roy Halladay

When I was a kid, I wanted to be like Roy Halladay.

Yesterday, Roy “Doc” Halladay died in a plane crash. It was his plane. He was the only one on board. Halladay was only 40-years-old, and leaves behind a wife and two boys.

I didn’t know how to react when I heard the news. It didn’t seem real and it still doesn’t.

Halladay was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in 1995 and pitched for them from 1998 – 2009. That is my childhood right there.

When he requested a trade and the Blue Jays obliged by sending him to the Philadelphia Phillies (2010-2013), it was bittersweet. I was happy that he would finally get the chance to play in the playoffs, but deep down, I wished he could’ve done that here.

I grew up watching Halladay, who was oftentimes the only bright spot on an otherwise poor Blue Jays team. Every fifth day he pitched felt like “guaranteed win day”. He was that good. He was that dominant.

I’ve learned not to idolize athletes because, most of the time, they’ll end up disappointing you. However, I idolized Halladay. He never disappointed me.

Unlike most professional athletes, he never made the game about him.

My favourite thing about him was his disposition on the mound. It never changed. He was locked in and serious the entire way through. No moment was bigger than another.

If he got a big strikeout or his team made a big play, he didn’t stand there celebrating. He would just turn around and walk to the dugout, knowing it was only one play and the job was not done.

That’s why I wanted to be like Roy Halladay.

As a kid playing softball, I found myself pitching more often than not.

When my teammates made a big play behind me or I made a big strikeout, I didn’t stand there celebrating. I didn’t scream. I didn’t wave my hands in the air. I didn’t jump around.

Halladay didn’t, so I wouldn’t.

One of the only times I remember Halladay being over-expressive on the field was in a game the Blue Jays played in Tampa Bay. One of Tampa’s hitters hit a slow roller up the first base line.

Halladay picked it up thinking it was a foul ball. Unbeknownst to him, the umpire call it a fair ball. The batter reached first base safely. And then Halladay got mad. He was yelling at the umpire. He was animated. He was fighting for what he thought was right.

I even remember the broadcaster saying at the time, something along the lines of, “If Halladay is arguing, you know he must be right.”

That moment stuck with me for some reason.

When the coach told us to run off the field after an inning, I’d walk off from the mound because that’s what Halladay did. Granted, most major league pitchers walk to the dugout to conserve their energy, so this wasn’t unique to Halladay. But I pretended that it was.

Halladay was better than you, but wouldn’t rub it in your face. He’d make you look silly, and then quietly walk off the field. I loved that.

We’re in an era where starting pitchers throw six innings and are happy. Halladay wanted to go nine innings every single game. In his career, he had 67 complete games. That is unheard of nowadays.

He was in a class of his own, both on the field and off it. He donated $100,000 of his contract each year he was in Toronto to the Jays Care Foundation.

No one cared more. No one worked harder.

I feel terrible for his family. I feel terrible for his friends. I feel terrible for his former teammates. I just feel terrible, in general.

A quick glance at his Twitter feed tells you that he loved flying and his family.

You’ll hear stories from his old teammates who will say that Halladay would be finished his workout and dripping in sweat before anyone else even arrived.

You’ll hear stories about him going in before 5AM and staying late after games, just to get his work in.

You’ll hear stories about how on game day, everyone knew not to say a word to him because he wouldn’t reply. He was locked in.

In his second career game in the majors, he was one out away from a no-hitter. I remember watching that game back in 1998 as a 7-year-old boy.

All of a sudden, Bobby Higginson of the Detroit Tigers hit a home run over the left field fence. The no-hitter was gone.

After that, things got worse before they got better for Halladay. He was sent back down to the lowest level of the minor leagues to re-invent himself with pitching coach, Mel Queen.

All of that feels like just yesterday to me because I still remember it.

When he made it back to the Blue Jays, he established himself as one of the best pitchers of his generation. Maybe he didn’t get the recognition he deserved because he was playing in Canada, but the fans here knew he was great. And the players around the league knew it too.

Derek Jeter said Halladay was the toughest pitcher he’s ever faced. That says a lot.

Halladay is eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2019. It saddens me that he won’t be there to make a speech and go in as a Blue Jay.

Roy Halladay was one of the best, and not just because he was a great baseball player.

Thanks for the memories, Doc. You were one of a kind.

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58 Responses to Roy Halladay

  1. He really was a great pitcher and by all accounts a good guy. Sorry for his family.

    Liked by 10 people

  2. lifepunchesback says:

    This post was an Amazing Ode for Roy Halladay. You did him justice. Great read.

    Liked by 10 people

  3. What a great post… had me teary-eyed. I thought he was an awesome pitcher… I loved to watch him pitch when he was with the Phillies. Such a tragic ending to his life.

    Liked by 10 people

  4. C.J. Black says:

    May he rest in peace. Don’t know anything about the man or his sport what I do recognise is in honour of the man from a true fan this is beautifully written.

    Liked by 9 people

  5. Great tribute. As a life-long Phillies fan I feel your pain as well. Doc was an absolute throwback to the day when starters finished their games. For many years I got to watch the great Steve Carlton pitch, and just like when Roy pitched for the Jays, they were the best team in baseball, regardless of how bad they were every other night. Doc was the same, and Phillies fans loved him from day one, pitching a perfect game and a no-hitter in the playoffs made him a legend, just like Carlton and Schmidt. This past spring he was a consultant for the team at spring training. I would have loved to see him as a pitching coach one day. Baseball and life lost a great one. Sympathies to his family and to his fans in Toronto as well.

    Liked by 10 people

    • Paul says:

      Well said. I think all Blue Jays fans were so happy to see him go to the Phillies and finally make the playoffs. I still remember where I was when he threw the no-hitter in his first playoff game. It was incredible.
      I read today that he was going to start working with the Phillies full time next season as a minor league coach, specializing in mental skills. He would’ve been perfect.

      Liked by 4 people

  6. Barb Knowles says:

    I love love love your sports posts, but this is….I can’t put it into words. Poignant? Of course I know Roy Halladay. I remember when he won the Cy Young Award. Twice, I think. This is such a good tribute, because it isn’t just about him. It’s about the effect that he had on other players and fans, but mostly the effect he had on YOU. A little boy who watched his career grow as you grew up. Focused, humble, a family man….a man to be respected. What a wonderful post. You are such a good writer. He was lucky to have you as a fan and you were lucky to have him as a hero.

    Liked by 9 people

  7. Ely says:

    I have no idea who he was- but I’m glad I know now. And I’m sorry that someone who was such a great influence for you in sports and in life is now gone. Luckily, he brought out the best in you as a young boy- when you needed that kind of inspiration the MOST- and he helped in some form or another shape and mold you into the amazing guy you are today. So maybe too little too late- but I’m a fan of yours and so it’s only fair that I be a fan of his as well. His family would be proud of this post. I hope it gets far enough to get to them. And may he rest in paradise in the grandest field of all up there.

    Liked by 9 people

  8. Guy Austin says:

    When I was a kid I idolized Nolan Ryan. As a huge Angels fan I can relate to your angst when Halladay left for Phili, just as Ryan left for Houston for me. I recall when some of my favorites of the game passed too soon. Thurmon Munson in August of 1979, in a plane crash – flown by him landing short of the runway, saving two others in his effort to land safely. It was what I recalled when I heard the news of Halladay. The same feeling I had at 13 when the radio announce Munson’s death.

    Your article is a great tribute to a great guy. If you read about Munson it is very similar to Halladay, in that his wife did not want him to fly. That he was a great family man. Halladay will certainly be missed.

    Liked by 12 people

  9. One of the best great baseball player to have lived on earth. Legends never die, memories still remains

    Liked by 10 people

  10. Anand Bose says:

    Great write! Anand Bose from Kerala

    Liked by 7 people

  11. Awesome post. He definitely was an amazing athlete. I feel so bad for his family.

    Liked by 6 people

  12. Yoly says:

    He was an amazing man. It’s so sad.

    Liked by 9 people

  13. Dutch Lion says:

    Excellent post Paul. I too liked Roy Halladay and am sad and sorry about this news. As a Jays fan, I’m sure you loved him completely. He was a dominator. You mentioned most of the stuff I remembered, such as how he was so calm and walked slowly off the mound. Never too high, never too low. I tried to get him in fantasy every year. He was the kind of guy I liked and needed on my team. Loved watching him pitch. Thanks for the great article. Sorry for your loss.

    Liked by 6 people

    • Paul says:

      Thanks, Reid. He was the perfect fantasy player to have. Always reliable, even against the toughest teams. The AL East is no joke and for the entire time he was here in Toronto, we could never beat the Yankees or Red Sox. But when he was on the mound, we felt like their equal, if only for a day.

      Liked by 2 people

  14. xtradonaire says:

    Character was important then and it is still important today. Well written blog for a well deserve athlete.

    Liked by 5 people

  15. Thank you for this blog ! I’m a huge Blue Jays fan. The news of Doc really struck home for me. One of the greatest! Great blog πŸ˜ŠπŸ™πŸΌ

    Liked by 6 people

  16. Thank you for sharing the sad news but also the joy of his memory in such a real and personal way…it makes us all wish we could have sat beside him in the dugout just for a minute, even one minute would do.

    Liked by 7 people

  17. ruddjr says:

    What a great tribute. The last game I attended was July 11, 2008. The Jays were playing the Yankees. The game was 2hrs and 20 minutes and would have been shorter except the last guy fouled off about 19 pitches. My brother used to say he was a machine because you expected him to pitch 9 innings. What a great player, gentleman and family man. He will be missed.

    Liked by 7 people

  18. Kevin Charest says:

    As a Blue Jays fan i can remember Doc’s second major league start . He got called up from the minors .
    It was the last game of a regular season . The Jays sent out a few other rookies that afternoon .
    Halladay didnt have a bad afternoon . He almost threw a perfect game . A Detroit batter got a hit off Doc with two outs in the ninth inning .
    In my mind Haladay should be in the ranks of the top ten pitchers ever to play the game .
    Rest In Peace Doc

    Liked by 6 people

  19. K.M. Sutton says:

    What a beautiful tribute to someone you admired. Thanks for sharing ❀

    Liked by 6 people

  20. PETWONE says:

    Such a sad day. We will all miss him very much.

    Liked by 6 people

  21. Awesome post it remembers to him…..

    Liked by 2 people

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  23. Gbenga Kajopaye says:

    Wonderful and touching piece…well done

    Liked by 3 people

  24. Kaycee says:

    This is so heart crushing. Nice story and sorry for your loss Roy taught us all some great valuable lessons

    Liked by 3 people

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  28. The report last week that Roy Halladay’s crash was due to pilot error while doing stunts — and drugs in his system may have played a role — just made my heart break all over again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      I know, I almost wish they didn’t tell us. I mean, it didn’t change what I thought of him, just in a way it makes the whole thing even sadder. I feel bad for the family having to go through it all over again.


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