So I am going to start this post off by apologizing. I have been away and unable to post anything for the longest time.
Okay, that being said, I am not going to get into stats or any fancy words, I want to write about feelings. Before you think I am getting all soft on you, I just want to remind anyone that Roy Halladay has been my hero since I was 14 years old.
September 27, 1998 is a day I will never forget. Detroit Tigers in town, and I was at the game with some friends. I had heard that a young phenom who was just drafted a few years ago was starting for the Jays in his second big league game and there was a considerable buzz around the stadium. I think there were around 30,000 people in attendance that day. I watched in awe as this young kid was throwing 93-96mph with an absolute hammer. I remember he struck the first batter of the game out. I remember the anticipation of the 6th through 8th innings as Roy, the 1996 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Player of the Year, twirled his gem. Everyone stood on their feet as he induced a flyout and a groundout to start the 9th inning. As everyone knows, Bobby Higginson then hit a pinch hit homerun, breaking up the no-no. I was sitting in the 200 level behind the Blue Jays bullpen, and the ball was actually on track to get to me, it was just a bit short. The Jays still won, but little did I know that this would be a day I will always cherish.
The memories are pretty vivid in my mind, and it wouldn’t be until 2003 that I realized how good he really was. After Mel Queen had the idea of sending him all the way back to A ball, a lot of people gave up on him. But this was Roy Halladay, probably the hardest working man in baseball. He retooled his mechanics and came back with a vengeance. 2002 was good, but 2003 was a huge breakthrough. 9 complete games, 6.38 K/BB, and a Cy Young award; a star was re-born.
I almost took it for granted that I could see him almost in my own backyard whenever I wanted. Year after year, he was masterful, dominating hitters and signing contracts well below his market value. He loved Toronto, and wanted to win there.
Let’s fast forward past the trade, past the G8/G20 fiasco that pushed his return to Toronto to 2011. I am so glad that this happened, because I was actually able to see his return. Along with 44,000 other people who stood on their feet when he took to the mound, much to the chagrin of new ace, Ricky Romero, I cheered and clapped. Yes, he is now the enemy on a different team, but he is and always will be my hero for his work ethic, charitable nature, and the quiet confidence he possesses. I had a tear in my eye, seeing him on that mound wearing any jersey but Toronto’s. He wasn’t the magical Doc that some people expected, but he was exactly what he needed to be. Struggling with his stuff, he battled and threw 110 pitches in a complete game effort.
When the game was over, another ovation was given and he finally allowed himself to notice, tipping his cap to the fans.
I guess all I am trying to say was that seeing him pitch is something that anyone should allow themselves to do. He is a once in a lifetime talent, and a true class act. Even on his bad days, he is better than most, because he will battle through it all. I urge you, if he ever pitches against your team, go watch, you won’t be disappointed.