Remembering The Great Roy Halladay
Roy Halladay died today in a plane crash in the Gulf of Mexico.
It’s beyond comprehension right now. I don’t know what to think or say, So, I’m just writing to see what will come out.
The man was a machine, I’m not going to sit here and throw numbers at you, because gaudy though they were, statistical dominance didn’t do him justice. For the prime of his career, he was one of the most unbeatable pitchers ever.
If Doc was hurling, the Blue Jays were going to win. It was that simple.
But, his legacy goes beyond that. Number 32 didn’t just overwhelm on the field, he led by example and made others around him better.
When A.J. Burnett ended up in T.O., there were questions about his focus, his work ethic and his attitude. That all changed after the incredibly gifted righty became Halladay’s teammate.
The two were inseparable in the dugout. Whenever anyone but Halladay and Burnett were on the mound, the two were seated next to one another in the dugout. Burnett assimilated many of Halladay’s qualities, not only as a pitcher, but a teammate. And we all know that when he finished his career, there were no longer questions about whether Burnett cared, and a least a fraction of that had to do with Roy Halladay.
Even when he was traded to Philadelphia, it was impossible to think in terms beyond a Jays guy helping the Phillies become an even larger behemoth.
For as fantastic as those Philly teams were, the constant thought that gnawed at me were visions of Denny McLain. I was positive that Halladay was going to win 30 games with that team behind him.
Of course, he didn’t. But he did win a Cy Young. And throw a perfect game. And the only postseason no-hitter delivered by anyone not named Don Larsen.
While he was with Toronto, I lived north of the border for nearly two years, and saw my fair share of games at Rogers Centre.
Being a Twins fan, it was a treat to sit down the third base line and chant “Lewww” whenever Lew Ford came to the plate as Jays fans asked me where I was from and what it was like to support a winning team.
I saw a Dustin McGowan one-hit the eventual National League champion Rockies on the same afternoon Frank Thomas blasted home run number 499.
I saw Vernon Wells launch three homers in a single game. A merchandise stand where no one had any idea who Corey Koskie was, even though he was Toronto’s third baseman and the only Canadian on the roster at the time.
I even saw Troy Glaus nearly blow a tire as he trekked home from first on a double in the 12th inning to beat Boston.
But with all of those great memories,there is one thing I never saw, and still can’t believe I never saw, was a Roy Halladay start in person.
How is that even possible? I lived in Ontario long enough to know that on days when Doc was slated to go, it was an event. Much like Gustavo Chacin’s cologne, it just felt (and smelled) like victory.
I’m a child of the eighties, so I had it ingrained into my thinking that the Jays would never produce a pitcher superior to Dave Stieb.
But then Halladay came along.
And then, he left, before I got a chance to see him. And now, he’s gone forever.
Roy Halladay never reached the World Series, and I never saw him climb the mound, but I will cling to those summers in Oshawa and Vaughn and Brockville, and the wonder of watching magnificence every five days on television.
Wonderful memories that will remain with me for the rest of my life. And I’m positive that I’m not alone.
To paraphrase Dave Van Horne, as Blue Jays or Phillies or baseball fans, I know, we won’t let go of that.