With the recent departure of Roy Halladay, I have been reflecting on his time in Toronto. To me it seems like a blur of superhuman performances and total domination of the opposition. It is tough to pick highlights because there are so many, but with the wound so fresh, the following are the Roy Halladay moments that I will remember him for.
I remember a team mate of mine at the time was in attendance for this game and was sitting directly above the Blue Jays bullpen, watching the unknown Roy Halladay warm up before the game. It was odd because he was throwing to Benito Santiago in the pen and Darrin Fletcher was pencilled in as the starting catcher for the game. Regardless, my team mate talked about how the sound of Halladay popping Santiago’s glove was like fireworks in the bullpen. At one point Santiago paused and grimaced while shaking his glove as if to say “this kid’s got some heat.”
Anyway, Halladay pitched 8 2/3 of no hit ball before Detroit’s Bobby Higginson broke up the no-hitter and the shutout with a 2 out HR in the 9th. The Jays still won the game 2-1. Although Halladay showed some of the promise that Jays scouts saw in him, little did he know what was about to come in the following seasons. Roy would go on to throw his 2nd 1-hitter this past season vs. the Yankees.
After the misery that Hallday endured, in 2001 he slowly began to rebuild his confidence. This game marked his coming out party as he spun a no hitter into the 8th inning before giving up singles to Travis Fryman and Wil Cordero. This marked the completion of Halladay’s transformation into the dominant pitcher that we see to this day.
Like Toronto’s other franchise pitcher, Dave Stieb, Halladay was cursed with sketchy defense and a lack of run support. This was one of those games. This was one of those classic Halladay games where his examplary determination was on display. Despite flubs from Hinske at 3B and an anemic Jays offense that couldn’t touch Tigers’ starter Nate Cornejo (!?!), Halladay plugged away, quietly going about his business. At the end of the game Halladay turned in 10 innings of shutout baseball with 3 hits allowed and the Win after Bobby Kielty bailed him out with a walk off HR in the bottom of the 10th. Oh yeah, 1 more thing - this 10 inning game lasted 2:03 and Halladay threw only 98 pitches!
When A.J. Burnett joined the Toronto Blue Jays in 2006, he was given a locker next to Roy Halladay’s for obvious reasons. Jays management hoped Halladay’s work ethic and baseball acumen would rub off on the notorious wild card that is AJ Burnett. Little did anyone know that Halladay felt threatened, worried that he might cede his #1 starter status to Burnett.
“They label you as the No. 1 guy, and you have a guy here that’s got more talent than you, and you know that as soon as he figures it out, you’re not going to be there any more,” Halladay said
Gradually, he said, both realized they needed to quash their rivalry and both join forces.
“It’s just something that came,” Halladay said. “I think we both realized it was better that way. It’s hard to compete sometimes against each other like that. It was good for both of us because I never had a guy that was that talented behind me, and it pushes you. You always want to do better because you know this guy’s got the capability to take your spot.
They forged a close friendship and Burnett credits Halladay’s influence for helping him to turn in a career year in 2008. He posted a career high 18 wins to go along with 231 strikeouts.
I went (to Toronto) for a reason,” Burnett told MLB.com. “It was only for three years, but I believe that reason was to be around a man like Roy Halladay. You see someone out there that’s great and gets better every time. That kind of opens your eyes a little bit.”
That’s when he decided to opt out of his contract and join the Yankees so that he could get PAID. He signed a 5 year 82.5 million deal.
This season during the month of May, the Jays were leading the pack of the AL East, although had yet to test their mettle against a divisional rival such as the Yankees. Despite the Jays success, attendance at the Rogers Centre was lacklustre with games barely reaching 20,000 fans. However, a week or so into the season a buzz began to grow: when the Yankees come to town, the scheduled starter matchup should shake out to be AJ Burnett vs. Roy Halladay. Master vs. Apprentice. Student vs. Teacher. Etc. etc. etc. The Jays had not generated this much buzz since the heady days of 1992-93. It was estimated the Jays would attract maybe 35,000 fans to the game with more than half being walk up business to the box office.
(This was the scene outside the box office before game time. Unbelievable.)
In typical AJ fashion – with the pressure on – he threw the fastball everwhere except the strikezone. AJ gave up 5 runs in 7+ while walking 4. Halladay went the distance – of course – giving up only 5 hits in 9 innings while walking none. The Jays went up against the evil empire and won. David beat Goliath. For one night, anyway. And one night was enough for what turned out to be 43,000+ fans.
The Jays had never done it before in franchise history. Doc shut them down for 7 strong. For a moment in time, they believed they could. And they did.
Halladay became the first pitcher in franchise history to win 22 games in a season and sealed his Cy Young fate with this game. Of course, it was another complete game… (the last of his team-record four consecutive complete games and 41 shutout innings) and only 2:07.
Last season the Jays were in Philadelphia under very stormy skies. Jays’ starting pitcher Shaun Marcum was pulled after 1 inning. Then there was a 2nd delay. Jays’ Manager John Gibbons walked past Halladay’s locker in the clubhouse, made eye contact with Roy and Roy just pointed at his cleats. Gibby told him that never in a million years would Halladay go into the game as a pinch runner. Doc shakes his head, points to the bullpen and says “I’m ready to go if you need me.” Doc comes into the game after the delay, strands the 2 inherited runners from Carlson, throws 2.1 with 1 hit and strikeoutss over 23 pitches. The Jays go on to win the game.
Again with the shaky defense and anemic offense, Halladay goes winless in April. Not to worry though as Halladay spins off 15 straight wins. Oh yeah, another 2-hitter.
Halladay Learns To Look Like a Badass From Pat Hentgen
Halladay’s Charitable Work
During his time in Toronto, Roy Halladay ran a program called “Doc’s Box.” It is a luxury suite paid for by Halladay for the use of sick children that they can use to enjoy the game. Halladay instituted the program after signing his first multi-year deal. Roy’s wife, Brandi, is critical in helping to manage the program.
“Roy and I want to be able to do more with Doc’s Box but we’re kind of at our max,” Brandi said. “We can’t have more days because the hospital just can’t get them here. We have the ability to do it, but the hospital just doesn’t have enough staff. So, we’re trying to figure out how we can expand Doc’s Box. Our way is going through Ronald McDonald House, doing something for the families who are involved with (terminally ill) children. It’s an amazing charity.”
Not only is she an integral part of Doc’s Box but she also spearheads the Lady Jays food drive. As well, Roy has been involved in the Make-A-Wish foundation and takes time out of his schedule to “have a catch” with some very special children. Not only is he a stud pitcher but he is a stellar human being.
Halladay Wails on a Guitar
Well, not wails. But close.
Halladay Sticks Up for His Teammates
After watching his teammates get abused and bullied by Boston pitchers, Halladay decides to take liberties of his own. It is best seen here.
This was a summer in which media and fans hyped every second-half start as being Halladay’s final start at the Rogers Centre. This one actually ended up being it. This was a classic Halladay start in every sense. Complete game shut out. Total domination. Slightly over 2 hrs (2:11). No walks. A performance to give the fans something to cheer for. Thank you, Roy.
We’ve watched Roy Halladay grow in front of our eyes from a boy into a man. He has been a part of our lives for 12 years.
This breakup doesn’t have to be permanent. With the news that Halladay has signed a 3 year contract with the Phillies, the window is left wide open for a return to the Jays when Anthopolous’ plan has come to fruition. How likely is this scenario? Only time to tell. In the words of Halladay: “Finishing strong, that’s what’s important to me.”