Today, we lost a true legend…
Roy Halladay, one of the most iconic sports figures in Canadian history, died in a plane crash off the coast of Florida. Halladay was piloting his personal two-passenger plane when it crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. He was the only one on board the aircraft.
Now, this tragedy is mere hours old and many details have yet to be released, but what we do know is the baseball community has lost one of the true greats. More tragically, a wife has lost her husband, and two children are left without their father.
Dominant on the field over 16 years, Halladay was every bit as inspiring off the field as he was on it, and as we mourn his passing, I’m at a loss over how to articulate what he meant to not only baseball, but this city (Toronto), and this country (Canada). For almost his entire career, there simply was nobody better. A career ERA of 3.38, 203 wins, 67 complete games, the list goes on and on…
He single handedly carried the Blue Jays through one of the franchise’s darker periods of existence (1998-2009). His Toronto tenure was highlighted by countless personal achievements and accolades, a Cy-Young Award and numerous All-Star appearances to name a few. Despite his dominance, he never played a single post-season game in a Blue Jays uniform, an unfortunate reality he had zero part in creating.
He never bitched. He never complained. He continued to work at his craft, building on an already legendary pedigree. In his twelfth season with Toronto, sticking with the professionalism he was so aptly known for, he politely requested a trade so he could taste post-season baseball before it was all said and done.
The Blue Jays obliged, and in his first post-season performance, he doctored a no-hitter. BEFORE THAT, he tossed a perfect game!!
(He never wavered in his love and admiration for Toronto, a place he called home for more than a decade, during a time where more powerful suitors would often try to entice him to play in their larger, more competitive markets and likely for more $$$)
While he would go on to play in three post-seasons following his years in Toronto, Halladay was never able to get his hands on the Commissioner’s Trophy. He’s not the first legend to be shut-out from championship hardware, nor will he be the last…
Championships are by no means overrated, but dismissing the accomplishments of athletes, citing the absence of titles as your reasoning is bush league in a lot of cases. One must account for the sport in question. Roy Halladay is one of the greatest pitchers of all-time, regardless of rings. Dan Marino was a helluva quarterback, Steve Nash as good a point-guard as there was. You get my point.
Outside of baseball, Roy Halladay was, as many know, a loving husband and father of two. He also had a passion for flying but during his playing days, his contract prevented him from engaging in such an activity. In retirement, Halladay was held back from his off-field passion no longer.
Time, as it always does, heals all wounds, and as we continue processing today’s events, remember that in life, it’s more about how you effect the lives of those around you than it is about what you do to benefit yourself. For Roy Halladay, he gave so much. His blood, his sweat, his tears, even his money and time to those who wished for nothing more than to see, touch, and talk to their sports icon. No matter what it was, Roy Halladay was ready and willing.
Longtime Blue Jays reporter Richard Griffin tells a phenomenal story about Roy following his first ever postseason game.
In the clubhouse, while the media gathered around his stall preparing their shower of pomp and circumstance, Halladay was getting some post-game attention in the training room. Emerging from the room, impervious to the ceremony that awaited, he grabbed his five year old son, who happened to be celebrating his birthday the following day — an off-day for “Dad”. The mountain of a man — both in literal & figurative terms — grabbed his soon-to-be six year old son and together, they celebrated…
…not at what had just happened on the field. No no no, that was of little consequence.
Instead, they would both be headed to Chuck-E-Cheese tomorrow to celebrate somebody’s birthday.
That, in a nut shell, is what Roy “Doc” Halladay was all about.
Everyone but himself.
And man am I going to miss him.