Remembering Roy “Doc” Halladay
Wow this is a tough one. Just a complete gut punch. Here we had an athlete, role model and–to many–a hero. Without any warning at all Halladay is just gone. He is tragically leaving behind a young family at the way-too young age of 40. It just doesn’t make sense.
Some say that your formative years as a sports fan is around age 10. When I was just starting to become a baseball fan, I happened to be stuck with the hapless Toronto Blue Jays of the early 2000’s. I watched many years of bad baseball, while a seemingly endless supply of forgettable players suited up for the Toronto Blue Jays. Despite the Jays being an after-thought in the tough American League East, I still loved the team. This was do in no small part to Roy Halladay.
You see, even as a kid just learning the ins and outs of baseball, I didn’t have to know baseball to understand that when I was watching Doc pitch, I was seeing one of the best that baseball had to offer. Countless summer nights were spent in the backyard with a wiffle ball and bat with me hopelessly trying to mimic the patented Halladay cutter, while my little brother (failed) to take big Vernon Wells hacks. Whether it was watching him live on the TV or listening to Jerry Howarth in the car ride to my own baseball games, I didn’t miss a single Halladay start. One of my biggest regrets was that I never got to see Doc pitch in-person. You have no idea how many times I threw my hat in agony each year that we missed a Roy Halladay start by one day (I wish I was just exaggerating) on our annual trips to the Sky Dome to watch the Jays play live.
Every Spring my Grandpa (a man that I miss so much every day) and I would talk about how it was finally “the Jays year”. Almost too predictably, it never was their year. When it finally came for Halladay to move on from Toronto and request a trade to Philadelphia, I was heartbroken, but I understood. He gave the city everything he possibly could and at no point do I feel he cheated me.
Every October after the trade, while most Jays fans shifted their attention to the equally hopeless Maple Leafs, I was still tuning into baseball and cheering on Halladay and the Phillies in the playoffs. When I was in Grade 10, I vividly remembering staying home instead of going to my brother’s basketball game and watching Doc throw his playoff no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds. Despite the fact that I’m a Blue Jays fan, I remember living and dying with every pitch of that game. Because what I’ve come to realize is that I may have been a big Jay’s fan, but I was an even bigger Halladay fan. When Halladay closed that game out, it was pure euphoria.
Roy Halladay was everything that you were told the prototypical professional athlete was supposed to be: talented, humble, approachable and hardworking. Doc was on my TV so much as a kid that he ended up being a huge part of my childhood. I have his jersey in my closet, I have his autograph in one of my dresser drawers and I never did take down the Roy Halladay poster that I bought at the grade 4 book fair. I have so many fond and special memories because of the Toronto Blue Jays and ultimately because of Roy Halladay. It just feels weird and wrong that he’ll never know what a profound impact he had on most kids across Canada. News of his death broke in the middle of lecture today. It was surreal and surprising (yet unsurprising) just how shocked and rattled most of the class was. For anyone too young to remember the ’92 or ’93 World Series, he was our generation’s greatest Blue Jay. He was the only reason MLB baseball was relavent in Toronto for over a decade. He was simply the best.
At the conclusion of his career, Halladay finished with an impressive resumé of two Cy Young awards (one in each of the American and National League), 203 regular season wins, a lifetime ERA of 3.38, eight All Star appearances, a perfect game and is one of only two pitchers in MLB history to throw a no-hitter in the playoffs. This man deserves to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible in 2019. The best pitcher to ever take the mound for the Blue Jays deserves to have his number 32 retired and raised to the Rogers Centre’s rafters. Roy ‘Doc’ Halladay may be gone, but his legend can’t die.