Doc

Roy Halladay died today. It’s a crushing blow to his family, all his friends in Colorado, Florida, Toronto, and Philadelphia, as well as the Blue Jays and Phillies organizations. It doesn’t really matter that Roy Halladay was one of the best pitchers who ever lived – there’s a plaque in Cooperstown that will go up someday to tell you all about it. The legacy that Roy Halladay leaves behind, at least in the public sphere, is of his work ethic, humility, and spirit.

Doc came to the Phillies in his prime, or maybe the tail end of it anyway. I’ll remember his perfect game against the Marlins, and I’ll remember his no-hitter in his playoff debut against Cincinnati in the 2010 NLDS. I’ll also remember his tough-luck performance against Chris Carpenter and the Cardinals in the 2011 NLDS. I’ll remember his windup and his leg kick.

But more than anything, at least right now, I’ll remember how he gutted it out in 2013. I’ll remember a man standing on top of the mountain with full knowledge that he wouldn’t be able to climb down on his own, but trying to anyway. I’ll remember him drenched in sweat as he struggled to throw 86 miles per hour. And with that, I’ll remember Roy being first to the park to run stairs and laps. I’ll remember how my city, our city, embraced him not because he was the best, but because he put in the work. We loved him because he was relentless, because perfection wasn’t good enough for him. He was the perfect athlete at almost the perfect time for Philadelphia.

Watching Doc trudge through his final season was sad, and when he retired it was a bit like being cheated out of the end of a great movie. After taking some time to process his career coming to an abrupt end, I was happy for him. He was only 36 when he retired — just a year older than I am now — and was going to be able to spend more time with his wife and kids. The man had missed so much, being on the road half the year for more than a decade, and now instead of going through a grueling shoulder surgery recovery process to squeeze out maybe one more year, he was just hanging everything up to be a family man. I love that about him.

I’d give back every pitch Roy Halladay ever threw for the Phillies to make today different. I can identify with how his family must be feeling. The little things we can all do to help will seem so insignificant to us, but in time, I hope we can have the perspective to see Doctor October as one of the all-time greatest Phillies, for his performance and the indelible mark he made on Philadelphia. When we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the WFC 2008 Phillies in the upcoming season, I think the team should retire #34 at Citizens Bank Park. It’s a small gesture, really, and it won’t fill the hole in our hearts. But every time we look out at that brick wall and see a red 34, we’ll remember.

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7 comments

  1. Nick

    November 07, 2017 07:54 PM

    my dad was an enormous Phillies fan for basically his entire life (1965-2016), and his incredible memory & ability to communicate let him pass so, so much of that onto me. as a result, baseball became possibly our biggest shared interest. we were very close, and a lot of that closeness came from watching countless games together throughout the years, and as I got older, our countless debates.

    we watched the bad teams of the late 90s, we watched guys like Rollins and Howard and Utley and Hamels come up and give us hope, and of course we watched the team win it all in 08 (and thankfully got to see the parade up close at Broad & Snyder, a memory I cherish).

    Doc gave us both so many memories in his short time here…the perfect game & the playoff no-hitter, yes, and the unbelievable determination he showed in 2013, but also all those smaller starts in between, the ones where you knew you could count on him for 6+ and < 3 runs and more than a few highlights. when I think about that era of baseball, and Halladay in particular, I think of those little memories, of watching and listening to those games with my dad and being routinely wowed by Doc's mastery of this absurdly difficult sport.

    as my dad's health failed in his last few years, baseball became a balm for both of us. even if we were in a hospital room, we could turn on the Phillies game and focus on something else for a few hours, trade memories and trivia and opinions on the state of the team. Doc had a part in that, too.

    as painful as it is for me to think about all this, and as painful as it is that Roy Halladay has died, I'm so grateful he gave us all these kinds of memories, and I hope he realized what an incredible mark he left on so many people's lives, even people he never met.

    • Romus

      November 08, 2017 09:24 AM

      Nick…from your heart, very well put.

    • Mike Fassano

      November 09, 2017 12:57 PM

      I loved Roy as much as the next guy, but have held off offering my opinion. What the Hell was he thinking? Did he miss the adrenaline rush of pitching in the big leagues? Was he a risk taker behind the wheel of his car? Did he hang glide?
      I loved Roy, but I’m angry at him. He cheated his wife, kids, family and fans out of half of his life.

      • Ken Bland

        November 09, 2017 05:43 PM

        From my experience as a person, Mike, being angry at a loved one for dying is normal within the recovery process. I applaud you for writing what you did which I would think all of us touched by the privilege of seeing Doc as a Phillie will at least wade through in time. Like you, part of me has been conscious of the what was he thinking early on, and I don’t know if that ever goes away. Part of me STILL feels some degree of anger towards Thurman Munson and JFK Jr.

        I’m glad you and I had the exchange we did on Doc as a pitching coach just days before all this. It was, and always will be nice to talk about the greatness of Doc, and when the time would have been right for that, no doubt, he would have had a lot to offer.

      • Romus

        November 10, 2017 09:20 AM

        Mike…..perhaps he was practicing , and over water thought it be the safest place to do it.
        ‘Touch- and- go’ maneuvers.
        Mil pilots do it all the time.
        “In aviation, a touch-and-go landing (TGL) or circuit is a maneuver that is common when learning to fly a fixed-wing aircraft. It involves landing on a runway and taking off again without coming to a full stop”.

  2. Jordan

    November 07, 2017 11:05 PM

    Perfectly delivered. Just like Roy was against the Marlins. Could not have said it better.

  3. Michael C Lorah

    November 08, 2017 08:27 AM

    I was about to go into the voting station when I got an alert on my phone that he’d died, and it was like somebody punched me in the gut. I could barely breathe in the booth.

    I think it was around 2003 I started to invent trade scenarios in my head that would bring Halladay to Philadelphia. I don’t really do that, spend time dreaming up trades. I just admired Roy and wanted him to be a Phillie so much though. When the Phillies actually did acquire him, it was a really, really cool moment, and those first two years were just magical.

    I feel terrible for his wife and children. This tragedy, I guess, makes me appreciate that I had the time with Roy that I did have – I tried to catch as many of Roy’s starts as possible on my MLB.tv. My biggest disappointment as a Phillies fan is that we never got Roy into that World Series he’d cherished for so long.

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