leehalladay

I can’t even.

Roy Halladay was the best pitcher in baseball after Pedro Martinez was mortalized by the cruel march of time. Right up until the moment that very same ravages of age took Halladay down, after a peak worthy of the Hall o Fame.

Languishing for also-ran Blue Jays clubs for much of his peak, Roy Halladay engineered a trade to Philadelphia just in time to make believers of the rest of the baseball world, putting together a Cy Young season for the ages, leading the Phillies to the playoffs where he famously pitched a no-hitter in his first career post-season start.

I could list stats and compare him to his peers over the 10-12 year span in which Roy Halladay dominated baseball but that might not tell the whole story. The whole story is off the best pitcher I ever saw, a dominating presence and student of the game who worked harder than everyone else – most of whom he was already more talented then.

Roy Halladay wasn’t the same guy after shoulder injuries robbed him of his release point and velocity and he isn’t dying, he’s making official what many already assumed – his days as a baseball player are over.

That Halladay will sign a “one-day contract” to go out as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays is immaterial. He was always a member of the Blue Jays to a generation of fans who missed out on the glory days. Halladay and Carlos Delgado were lone beacons of light in a dark chapter of a franchise still stumbling through the shadowy murk.

I’m not really a reporter, I’m a baseball fan. I like thinking about baseball and talking about baseball. One of the first occasions I ever received a press credential, it was a series between Halladay’s Phillies and the Toronto Blue Jays in June of 2012. Halladay was hurt, on the DL since the end of May.

To reach the field from the press area at the Rogers Centre, one must pass under the 100 level seats between the visitor’s clubhouse and workout facility. Late as per usual, I rushed with my head down towards the field in search of an interview subject. As I neared the steps leading toward the dugout, I looked up and realized Roy Halladay was passing right in front of me from the Phillies clubhouse toward the gym. It was a surreal moment, I didn’t expect to see him traveling with the team while on the DL. He should be in Clearwater, not turning my blood to ice just a few feet away!

He sort of looked at me as I trundled along, all but screeching to a halt. He continued eyeballing me as he strode across the path, going about his business as usual while I stood frozen in place. After he passed, I slipped onto the field and tried to pretend I wasn’t reeling. Roy Halladay! Standing right there! Few times have I understood what larger than life meant more literally than standing on the Skydome concrete that day.

Watching Roy Halladay pitch was always fun. Now he doesn’t pitch any more. There will be other fun baseball players but for a large number of Blue Jays fans, Phillies fans, and overall appreciators of baseball, Roy Halladay will live long in the memory.

Thanks, Roy. You big goofy Mormon control freak. You made all the afternoons stuck in a concrete toilet bowl with green-painted carpet worthwhile. Every damn one.