I never had the privilege of meeting the pitcher most players who did know him thought of as an icon. I likely wouldn’t have ever had the pleasure of meeting Roy Halladay even if his plane hadn’t crashed into the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday, killing the 40-year-old former Major League Baseball player.
Sadly, after hearing his teammates, opponents and friends talk about the charismatic, tall, right-hander who was nicknamed “Doc,” I wish I still had the opportunity to meet Halladay someday. But somethings are just not meant to be.
At least I can say that during the 12 years he spent in the American League with the Toronto Blue Jays, I was able to see him pitch. And he was definitely one of the best of his generation.
Yet, it was not simply his skill on the mound that made Roy Halladay great. It wasn’t that he won two Cy Young Awards – one with the Blue Jays and the other in the National League during the four years he spent with the Philadelphia Phillies.
It wasn’t his eight All-Star appearances or the many times he lead his particular league in any number of statistical categories. While those things did absolutely make Roy Halladay special, to other players around the league it was his demeanor, the way he lead his teammates and those around him by example with his tireless work ethic.
Everyone who knew him seemed to agree that he was the happiest guy around four days of the week but on the day he was starting a game it was best to nod and be on your way. He was focused and it showed in each of his performances.
Still on those other four days he was the type of person who had time for everyone whether it be a younger pitcher, an opposing teammate or a kid, according to Fredi Gonzalez, former MLB manager and current Miami Marlins’ third base coach. He went on to say,
When we had our young pitchers there in Florida, I said, ‘Pay attention to this guy.’ He never came out of the game. The competitiveness, you’d see it from across the field. It’s a sad day, whether you were a teammate or an opponent. Those guys don’t come around that often. Special human being.”
Halladay was an old-school type of pitcher, leading his league in innings pitched four times and pitching a total of 67 complete games over his 16-year career – 20 of which were shutouts.
In 2010, the year he won his second Cy Young Award, Halladay pitched a perfect game on May 29 against Gonzalez’s Marlins and, just months later, in October he became just the second pitcher to throw a no-hitter in the postseason when he defeated the Cincinnati Reds in the National League Division Series.
Roy Halladay was your favorite player’s favorite player. A true ace and a wonderful person. Heartbroken for those who knew him best.
— Brandon McCarthy (@BMcCarthy32) November 7, 2017
It wasn’t just McCarthy who spoke out, the outpouring of sorrow on social media Tuesday came from everywhere as the entire baseball world from the players to the fans mourned the loss of a great ballplayer and an amazing person.
Halladay is survived by his wife Brandy and their sons, Ryan and Brayden. One only hopes that they can feel the love pouring in from every corner of the baseball world.
I may have never known Halladay and only seen him pitch a handful of times but this is truly as heartbreaking as it gets.