Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine
It's hard to find the right words.

There are so many stories that should and probably will be written about Harry Leroy Halladay. I can't possibly do the man justice by trying to impart those facts within my limited knowledge.

Especially since many people know the story: how he was a top draft pick who rose to the major leagues with so much promise, coming within a single out of throwing a no-hitter in his second career start. Then the story shifted to one of a struggling young pitcher trying to make his way against the very best hitters in the world, during the tail end of an era where slugging batters dominated the sport no less. He turned in one of the worst seasons a qualified MLB pitcher has ever handed on the desk in 2000, and the team sent him down three levels the next year in a potentially vain hope he'd figure shit out.

The 2001 team stands out to me really because it was the genuine beginning of my infatuation/love affair with the Toronto Blue Jays. Which is objectively hilarious because what a truly forgettable team, despite how Carlos Delgado was freaking awesome, Vernon Wells gave us lots of hope for the future (ha!) and the Quantrill-Plesac bromance was only trumped by their awesome abilities to actually pitch good bullpen innings. Aside from that (and Jose Cruz Jr.'s 30-30 year), the most notable thing about this squad was how dreadful the starting pitching staff was, particularly early on. Steve Parris, Joey Hamilton, Chris Michalek, Esteban Loaiza (I mean, Tom Riddle), all stinking up the SkyDome mound on a regular basis. Finally this pitching-sad squad made a depth callup in the middle of June for an arm with anything resembling life.

I'm not lying, I actually remember this game somewhat: Halladay's 2001 debut in relief (a truly dreadful Loaiza start it turns out). Doc same in early and then surrendered six runs in two-plus innings to the Red Sox. I recall my thirteen year old self watching and thinking: "This guy is really awful. I never want to see him out there again.". Halladay's ERA on the season after that game was 23.14. The team gave him an actual start five days later and I thought they were completely insane. This is why MLB teams don't listen to the whims of 13 year olds.

I quickly changed my tune and fell in love with Halladay. He didn't walk anybody (25 in 105.1 IP), didn't give up home runs (3!) and was just 24 years old in 2001, yet clearly had the best composure on that staff. Nothing seemed to bother this guy now, not Billy Koch blowing his potential wins multiple times or even just playing on a team so forgettably mediocre as the 2001 Blue Jays. You could just tell he was potentially on a different level.

Indeed he was. Roy Halladay had clearly arrived. He was a lonely bright spot on a really bad 2002 Blue Jays team, a point of pride on a competitive 2003 team that scored a million runs thanks to simultaneous career years, and his injury/brief ineffectiveness was a major symptom of the Season From Hell (vol I) that was 2004.

2005 rolls in, I'm seventeen and now have fallen in love with pitching. I spent a lot of my after school time at my high school going out back to the sports field, finding a familiar square on the outer brick wall and just firing away. I learned quickly my fastball was pathetically slow (like barely breaking the speed limit in a school zone slow), but the appeal of it all was more in the art of pitching than just being able to blow heat past people. I wanted to carve corners, change speeds, make em think something else was coming. I 'd been watching a master at this in Doc Halladay for three-plus seasons now, and I wanted to emulate this master sculptor like a child desperate for just a single slab of marble. Everything he threw at hitters moved, but it moved in such unpredictable directions and was always in just a perfect spot where a hitter couldn't quite get it. Another weak ground ball. I watched every one of his starts, studied this impossible method and aspired to be capable of the same, even after an errant but heartbreaking line drive from Kevin Mench prematurely ended what could have been Doc's best season.

Halladay's brilliance as a Blue Jay became a yearly expectancy as his career continued. Once we knew he was fully healthy after an initially exciting 2006 season, Doc spent his remaining time as a Blue Jay spinning seasonal masterpieces for teams that either made ineffectual moves towards competing or just wanted to start over. After 2009, it was time for Doc to start over. It was a common secret Halladay wanted to play in Philadelphia, yet he never made a public request or complained on emerging social media, and the team made a deal that now basically results in getting a third of R.A. Dickey and all of Devon Travis. Conclusion jury is still out looking for conclusions on that one.

Losing Doc hurt every fan of the Blue Jays, despite how inevitable it felt near the end. And yet, many of us didn't harbor ill feelings towards him for wanting to get outta town. Many of us still rooted for him, and were ecstatic the night he threw his perfect game in Miami. I remember I was out on the town with some friends, heard about what he'd done and once I was free rushed home at three in the morning just to watch the highlights of another Halladay masterpiece. And he looked every bit the pitcher he had always been, except he was wearing the wrong uniform. But that didn't matter. He was still our guy.

Later that same season was the first game of the 2010 NLDS with the Phillies facing off against the Reds (before they became my adopted NL team). A friend of mine wanted to have a long hang out of beers, personal basketball/baseball rivalries and various other stuffs, but it was Roy Halladay's first ever playoff appearance for the Phillies and I just did not want to miss it, so I blew him off. My friend fired some snarky remarks my way, which I gladly accepted for the opportunity to watch live only the second no-hitter in MLB postseason history. A historically excellent performance tarnished only by the fact that Doc missed a perfect game by walking a single batter, on a borderline 3-2 pitch no less. The Phillies won that series against the Reds but lost frustratingly to a clearly inferior Giants squad in the NLCS, and that was the closest Halladay ever got to a championship he richly deserved. He had a couple more good years with Philadelphia (including that great Game Five playoff duel with Carpenter the next year) but shoulder problems slowly robbed him of velocity and he hung up the spikes after 2013 with 206 wins in the big leagues.

Roy Halladay was the kind of player you wanted to root for, to cheer for, to love, once you inhaled a single wiff of what he was about. He was an insanely hard working and well conditioned, but humble about his own personal successes. His greatest pitching skill was ruthless efficiency, yet he was incredibly enjoyable to watch when on his game. In retirement his obsessive dedication to his craft gave way to a man cheerful and relaxed with his accomplishments, whether it be trolling a fan with a Halladay jersey (who walked past Doc without recognizing him) in good social media fun, signing a theatrical one day contract so he could retire as a Blue Jay (with all the gushing that followed), or taking up an interest in aviation (which is exactly what has led to this tragedy).

All I can say is that I'm proud to be a fan of the Blue Jays, because Roy Halladay played for the Blue Jays. A great, classy ballplayer who by so many accounts was an even greater and classier human being. During those forgettable seasons when Doc took the mound I usually didn't care who the Jays were facing or what the sad W-L record of my team was, I was more excited to see a true master take the stage once more. I am truly saddened we will never get to see the man himself take to the precious stage of life again. 
A Farewell To Doc | 29 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
rpriske - Wednesday, November 08 2017 @ 01:01 PM EST (#350497) #
Well said. Thank you.
ComebyDeanChance - Wednesday, November 08 2017 @ 02:36 PM EST (#350499) #
I rarely read or post here anymore, but sad occasions like this cause one to look about for others that may feel the same.

The lead post here is a nice tribute. Here are my own words. What a life well lived! A man great at his work, but as a measure more important, at the much harder task of being a good man. Someone who was a great father who loved coaching his kids. Who loved being a husband. Who was decent by all accounts.

True, his life seems cut short. But what a good job he did at living it!
China fan - Wednesday, November 08 2017 @ 02:49 PM EST (#350500) #
The tributes to Halladay over the past day have been overwhelming and very moving. I always knew he was a brilliant pitcher and hard-working guy, but I don't think I fully appreciated what a fantastic human being he was. So many stories are emerging now. So many people were inspired by him, and he was so generous with his time and his help. And on the baseball field, I don't think I fully understood the awesomeness of his achievements: the complete games, especially, and how he transformed a mediocre team into a great team whenever he pitched.
Mike Green - Wednesday, November 08 2017 @ 03:08 PM EST (#350501) #
Thanks, eephus.

In 2011, the Box changed the banner to add Jose Bautista and Ricky Romero and to remove Roy after quite a few years.  On the thread announcing the change, Mick Doherty commented:

Dear Roy,

Here at Batter's Box, Jays fans will always miss and respect you. But we realize that you've been gone for more than a year now, so it's finally time for us to move on. We like the lefty ace and the cleanup hitter to represent our best chance to win one a them rings you picked up last year, as we move forward.
Respectfully and with brotherly love,
Box Nation

(It wasn't actually a ring, but never mind that).

pubster - Wednesday, November 08 2017 @ 03:13 PM EST (#350502) #
A few videos of the flight. Some witness accounts of what happened:
Chuck - Wednesday, November 08 2017 @ 03:44 PM EST (#350504) #
but as a measure more important, at the much harder task of being a good man.

Yep. His on-field heroics speak for themselves and his success on the field is to be lauded, particularly the way he trusted those around him to help "rebuild" him when he struggled so badly early in his career. But it's so nice when the athlete you are rooting for is also a man of character and substance. The numerous accolades from teammates serve as confirmation of the man we always believed him to be.

dan gordon - Wednesday, November 08 2017 @ 04:01 PM EST (#350506) #
That's a very interesting eyewitness account of what was going on.
jerjapan - Wednesday, November 08 2017 @ 05:31 PM EST (#350508) #
Thanks for a heartfelt eulogy Eephus.  The outpouring of memories and comments on the Box and elsewhere show how Doc was universally held in high regard.  I can honestly say that I don't recall ANY fans who were miffed when Doc left - pretty atypical for the TO fanbase at the time.   He was certainly that rare player that I followed, regardless of his employer.
China fan - Wednesday, November 08 2017 @ 07:11 PM EST (#350510) #
"....That's a very interesting eyewitness account of what was going on...."

I think we need a little bit of caution about "eyewitness accounts."  Witness accounts can often be very wrong, and they can be even more inaccurate when people are trying to draw big conclusions from unreliable accounts.  (The lawyers on this site might back me up here?)  The TMZ report was very brief and sensationalized.  From the impressions of one or two people, they concluded that Halladay was "showboating."  That doesn't sound accurate, based on what we know of his personality. There could have been other explanations for the manoeuvres that his plane was apparently doing.  Might be prudent to wait for further information.
John Northey - Thursday, November 09 2017 @ 12:03 AM EST (#350511) #
No question Halladay will be the second player in the HOF with a Jays cap, the only question is how long it'll take and after this sad situation I suspect it'll be sooner than originally thought. I used to think it'd take years but this has put him front and centre in voters mind just a year before they can vote for him (doubt they'll do a Roberto Clemente and have a special vote a year early for him).

Just 203 wins, 2 Cy Youngs, 4 times led his league in bWAR for pitchers, 48 black ink points (avg HOF'er has 40). No question he is a peak candidate. Injuries in 2004/2005 hurt him, but at the end no one can say he held on too long just to pad his stats. The perfect game, playoff no-hitter both add tons to his story. The class he always showed should help a lot in the voting. I can't recall a single negative thing said about him beyond that horrid 2000 season and even that has positives, how he willingly went down to A ball to rebuild himself. Still don't know why we haven't seen any other pitchers do that who have flopped early.

As a single parent who lost my spouse suddenly (hospital screw up) I identify with his wife and know she must be going through a lot of pain but is non-stop thinking how to take care of the kids first. That is what one does when tragedy hits. Kids first always. Hopefully having tons of video of him and knowing he died doing something he always wanted to do will help them in the years to come.
John Northey - Thursday, November 09 2017 @ 12:06 AM EST (#350512) #
Looking at that video I'm thinking the plane was in trouble and he was having trouble controlling it - leading to the erratic flight. From everything we saw of him in his years here and from what reporters (who often look for the worst) said about him showboating does not sound right at all.
dan gordon - Thursday, November 09 2017 @ 03:01 AM EST (#350516) #
No mayday was sent from the plane, which would tend to argue against the idea of a mechanical problem. It shouldn't be hard for the investigators to determine if that is the case, as they have the complete plane. If he was engaged in some "aggressive" flying, that's OK - he was a young man having some fun with a cool vehicle that he enjoyed. It doesn't indicate some kind of character flaw. He may have just made an error in judgment, or hit some kind of turbulence that he couldn't fly through. It doesn't take much when you're flying close to the ground/water.
bpoz - Thursday, November 09 2017 @ 09:41 AM EST (#350520) #
I have been mourning his loss and reading the stories. A great pitcher and man.

I recently lost faith in humanity. All over the world there is violence, suffering, innocent lives lost. This is happening too frequently. The corporations have no compassion and honor. They are greedy and deceitful. Finding out the details and stories about what a good, caring man Roy was, is an example of how life should be lived by everyone.

Being retired, I have more time, but am not tireless. I am inspired to be a better man now. My actions will be more caring. I can initiate friendship and well being towards others. Simply smile and acknowledge strangers.

We will never forget Roy Halladay.
Magpie - Thursday, November 09 2017 @ 09:48 AM EST (#350521) #
This is from Bob Elliott's farewell:

This off season he wanted to work with Blue Jays minor leaguers. He applied -- yes Roy Halladay was made to apply for a job with the Blue Jays -- with the high performance committee. And then the decision whether to hire him was kicked upstairs. The Jays did not hire him. Instead, he was re-hired by the Phillies to work with their young pitchers.
uglyone - Thursday, November 09 2017 @ 09:51 AM EST (#350522) #
Magpie I wanted to post that elliott piece but since it would be me posting more invective against shapkins I thought maybe this wasn't the right thread for it tbh.

I'd love to berate shapkins over that in another thread, however.
Mike Green - Thursday, November 09 2017 @ 11:48 AM EST (#350524) #

Cathal Kelly had an article today in the Globe on Halladay.  He suggested that in addition to adding Doc to the Level of Excellence and retiring hisnumber, the club ought to honour him in some tangible way that was connected with the players.  My first thought when I read the article was that the "High Performance Department" ought to be renamed (with the permission of the family of course) the "Halladay High Performance Department".  Naming for honour instead of for sale is something I can get behind.  Anyways, that isn't happening. 

whiterasta80 - Thursday, November 09 2017 @ 11:49 AM EST (#350525) #
I'll do it for you ugly. There are some players who should be given carte blanche. Roy was one of them.

No way the Yankees make better do that (or the braves chipper Jones for example).
Dewey - Thursday, November 09 2017 @ 12:06 PM EST (#350526) #
Tyler Kepner had a very nice appreciation of Roy Halladay in yesterday’s NYT,  “Mourning Roy Halladay, a Master Who Craved the Big Moments”.

I expect that’s limited to subscribers; but it’s well worth checking out.   What was also very impressive were the comments on-line:  people from many, many different places saying in heartfelt language how much they admired both the man and the pitcher.  I’m very grateful to have seen him pitch often. (Among the best of those was what I think was his last appearance at the Dome (yes, still) as a Blue Jay.  Just dominant.  A pleasure to watch him work.)
pubster - Thursday, November 09 2017 @ 01:16 PM EST (#350528) #
vw_fan17 - Thursday, November 09 2017 @ 04:40 PM EST (#350531) #
pubster: I do agree that the tone (from what I read in another article talking about this guy) is very off-colour and insensitive.

OTOH, I do confess to wondering why so many wealthy people with families choose to fly small planes, when there are many high-profile crashes associated with that activity. I think Harrison Ford almost killed himself 2-3 months ago by botching the landing.

Not saying Doc was incompetent to fly or anything, but AFAIK, he bought one of the first of this new model of plane. I always hear "never buy the first year of any new car model". I'd be doubly cautious about the first year of a new plane..

Magpie - Thursday, November 09 2017 @ 06:56 PM EST (#350533) #
I don't know about Harrison Ford, but Halladay was the son of a pilot who grew up around airplanes and learned to fly when he was a teenager. The standard MLB contract doesn't allow you to drive motorcycles or snowmobiles, never mind airplanes, which is why he didn't get his license until he retired.

The Halladay family has just announced a service, open to the public, at the Phillies' spring training site.
John Northey - Thursday, November 09 2017 @ 11:31 PM EST (#350534) #
Well, my local former MP (one of the few who were representing the Green Party) flies around in his own plane too and loves it. Seems if you can afford it flying a plane is a big thing to do. Didn't get a chance to go for a flight with him this year but might next year (he doesn't fly in the winter - too dangerous). It is much like driving a sports car I suspect - there is a big rush and feeling of freedom which pulls you in.

Hopefully as the facts come out we'll hear that the plane was the issue not Halladay being a hot dog. Just because I think that would be easier for his family to deal with - feel that there was nothing he or they could've done.
scottt - Friday, November 10 2017 @ 08:33 AM EST (#350538) #
Well, I don't know if it's real or fake, but I've seen an Halladay tweet that says flying that plane low over the water feels like flying a fighter jet. I've also read the family announcement--which reads like it's from his wife--and I'm incline to believe he wouldn't go beyond what he thought was reasonably safe.
christaylor - Friday, November 10 2017 @ 11:44 AM EST (#350542) #
I'm certain it is real -- I saw it before the news of his death as I just happened to be browsing twitter at the time of the tweet.

He went out doing an activity that he clearly loved -- despite the tragedy, I think there's a grain of comfort in that.
Four Seamer - Friday, November 10 2017 @ 04:13 PM EST (#350547) #
I have been very much inclined to support this front office, but Roy Halladay ought to have been able to walk into any Blue Jays facility at any time, to do almost anything he damn well pleased, and everyone there ought to have stopped what they were doing immediately and thanked him for it.  He deserved absolutely nothing less from this team. I am exactly the same age as Roy, and even though the teams on which he pitched were some of the most forgettable in team history, he meant more to me than any Blue Jay before or since, including the ones I thought walked on water when I was a kid and didn't know any better.  He was simply the best at what he did, and he was pretty unique among athletes in that he never did anything during or after his career that made me feel even the slightest bit silly as an adult for admiring him.  I didn't know him, so I won't pretend to share the grief of those who did, but it's a loss to me all the same, and my thoughts and prayers to his family and friends. 
Mike Green - Friday, November 10 2017 @ 04:33 PM EST (#350549) #
I agree, FS.  Well said. 
Magpie - Friday, November 10 2017 @ 06:49 PM EST (#350551) #
And here's a piece on Doc's work with the young Phillies.
Nigel - Friday, November 10 2017 @ 07:56 PM EST (#350552) #
Perfectly said Four Seamer. I have a decade on you but I feel exactly the same.
Mylegacy - Monday, November 13 2017 @ 04:16 PM EST (#350585) #
Goodbye Roy.

As long as anyone is alive who remembers you pitching - you'll be alive too.
A Farewell To Doc | 29 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.