This past week, on November 7, baseball lost a legend both on and off the field. Roy “Doc” Halladay, a former Blue Jays ace, humanitarian, and a father, was just 40 years old when his ICON A5 plane tragically went down off the coast of Florida. The baseball world had only just begun to recover from the devastating deaths of pitchers José Fernández and Yordano Ventura and could never really be ready for another loss. Upon hearing the news, former teammate Ricky Romero remarked via interview: “Doc was one of a kind. I don’t think there will ever be a duplicate of him. A gentle giant… He’s definitely not going to be forgotten by me. His jersey hangs here in my man cave and it forever will. I will be sure to tell my son about who Doc Halladay was.”
Ricky, so will I.
Born in the suburbs of Colorado to a pilot and a homemaker in 1977, Halladay quickly made a name for himself in baseball during high school. Upon graduating, he was picked 17th overall in the first round of the amateur draft by the Toronto Blue Jays in 1995, earning his first call up to the big leagues in ‘98. It is likely that Blue Jays fans can vividly remember his rookie season being highlighted by losing a no-hitter in the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs in just his second career start, eventually finishing the game with a one-hit gem and his first career win, the first of many.
With 2002 came Halladay’s breakout season: a 19-7 record, 2.93 ERA and 168 strikeouts over 239.1 innings. 2003 brought similar success as he was named an All-Star for the second consecutive year and won the American League Cy Young Award for best pitcher. After seven more successful seasons with Toronto, he was traded to Philadelphia in 2010. He finished his Blue Jays career with over 2000 innings pitched, six All-Star selections, a franchise-record seven straight opening day starts, and a win percentage of 66%.
His Phillies career was highlighted by the 20th perfect game in MLB history, which entails no hits allowed, no walks, and no errors committed. That same year he became just the second player ever to pitch a no-hitter in the playoffs, and with it just the seventh player all time to pitch both a no-hitter and a perfect game in their career.
His career was cut short due to injury and ended in 2013. Fittingly, he signed a ceremonial one day contract with Toronto, retiring as part of the team with which his career blossomed, as a Blue Jay. 2 Cy Young Awards, 8 All-Star selections, 203 wins, and 2117 strikeouts throughout 2700+ innings and 16 years of excellence – some fans remember his stats, or his signature sinking 2-seam fastball. Most of us, however, remember the man the behind the numbers – the man who donated one hundred thousand dollars to the Jays Care Foundation every year he was a Blue Jay and worked with the Hospital for Sick Children, a man who embodied class. Personally, I’ll remember all of it: the highs, the lows, and the first jersey I ever owned.
Roy Halladay, (1977-2017), is survived by his two children, his wife, and an entire generation of baseball fans.