Saying goodbye to a childhood hero: A tribute to Phillies legend Roy Halladay

​On​ ​November​ ​7th,​ ​2017-​ ​around​ ​2​ ​o’clock​ ​EST-​ ​news​ ​broke​ ​that​ ​former​ ​Phillies​ ​ace​ ​Roy Halladay‘s​ ​airplane​ ​crashed​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Gulf​ ​of​ ​Mexico.​ ​Even​ ​worse,​ ​the​ ​Pasco​ ​Police​ ​Department confirmed​ ​that​ ​the​ ​pilot​ ​of​ ​the​ ​aircraft​ ​had​ ​passed,​ ​but​ ​had​ ​not​ ​yet​ ​been​ ​identified.

​​The​ ​news​ ​took​ ​the​ ​baseball​ ​world​ ​by​ ​storm-​ ​to​ ​put​ ​it​ ​mildly.​ ​I​ ​received​ ​word​ ​shortly​ ​after I​ ​got​ ​off​ ​work​ ​and​ ​could​ ​feel​ ​my​ ​chest​ ​cave​ ​in.​ ​No​ ​way​ ​my​ ​childhood​ ​hero​ ​was​ ​gone.​ ​How​ ​could he​ ​be?​ ​He’s​ ​Doc​ ​freaking​ ​Halladay!​ ​ROY​ ​MOTHER​ ​LOVING​ ​HALLADAY!​ ​Thrower​ ​of​ ​no​ ​hitters and​ ​destroyer​ ​of​ ​batting​ ​averages.​ ​He​ ​was​ ​Superman​ ​with​ ​a​ ​kryptonite​ ​immunity​ ​on​ ​the​ ​mound and​ ​the​ ​aura​ ​of​ ​invincibility​ ​surrounding​ ​him​ ​made​ ​it​ ​seemingly​ ​impossible​ ​to​ ​believe​ ​he​ ​had suffered​ ​any​ ​harm.

Thousands​ ​of​ ​Philly​ ​sports​ ​fans​ ​mirrored​ ​my​ ​sorrow​ ​and​ ​disbelief.​ ​Many​ ​of​ ​us​ ​prayed. Many​ ​of​ ​us​ ​fell​ ​silent.​ ​Many​ ​of​ ​us​ ​refreshed​ ​our​ ​feed​ ​relentlessly​ ​waiting​ ​for​ ​some​ ​sort​ ​of​ ​clarity.

But​ ​we​ ​all​ ​worried.

​ The​ ​Pasco​ ​Police​ ​Department​ ​announced​ ​that​ ​a​ ​press​ ​conference​ ​would​ ​be​ ​held​ ​at​ ​4:15 EST​ ​to​ ​identify​ ​the​ ​deceased​ ​pilot,​ ​and​ ​the​ ​dreaded​ ​waiting​ ​game​ ​was​ ​upon​ ​us.​ ​It​ ​would​ ​be nearly​ ​an​ ​hour​ ​before​ ​it​ ​was​ ​revealed​ ​if​ ​my,​ ​as​ ​well​ ​as​ ​countless​ ​others,​ ​hero​ ​was​ ​okay​ ​and​ ​all​ ​I could​ ​think​ ​about​ ​was​ ​how​ ​he​ ​became​ ​such​ ​a​ ​huge​ ​inspiration​ ​for​ ​me.

Halladay​ ​took​ ​no​ ​time​ ​emerging​ ​as​ ​a​ ​star​ ​in​ ​Philadelphia​ ​and​ ​cementing​ ​his​ ​status​ ​as one​ ​of​ ​my​ ​favorite​ ​players​ ​in​ ​2010-​ ​his​ ​first​ ​campaign​ ​with​ ​the​ ​Phils.​ ​The​ ​sinker-baller​ ​concluded his​ ​first​ ​regular​ ​season​ ​month​ ​as​ ​a​ ​Phillie​ ​with​ ​a​ ​5-1​ ​record​ ​and​ ​a​ ​1.80​ ​ERA.​ ​The​ ​craziest​ ​part​ ​is that​ ​his​ ​ERA​ ​reached​ ​1.80​ ​AFTER​ ​allowing​ ​five​ ​runs​ ​against​ ​the​ ​Giants​ ​in​ ​his​ ​last​ ​outing​ ​of​ ​the month.​ ​I​ ​was​ ​amazed​ ​at​ ​his​ ​poise​ ​on​ ​the​ ​mound​ ​and​ ​his​ ​ability​ ​to​ ​locate​ ​pitches​ exactly where the​ ​catcher’s​ ​glove​ ​was.​ ​He​ ​was​ ​an​ ​absolute​ ​delight​ ​to​ ​watch​ ​and​ ​you​ ​just​ ​knew​ ​you​ ​had​ ​a​ ​good chance​ ​to​ ​win​ ​the​ ​ballgame​ ​every​ ​time​ ​#34​ ​took​ ​the​ ​hill.

The​ ​hallmark​ ​of​ ​the​ ​2010​ ​season,​ ​of​ ​course,​ ​was​ ​Halladay’s​ ​perfect​ ​game​ ​against​ ​the then​ ​Florida​ ​Marlins.​ ​I​ ​remember​ ​following​ ​the​ ​play-by-play​ ​on​ ​my​ ​phone​ ​because​ ​it​ ​was​ ​an​ ​out of​ ​market​ ​game​ ​for​ ​me​ ​in​ ​Missouri.​ ​I​ ​felt​ ​the​ ​hairs​ ​on​ ​the​ ​back​ ​of​ ​my​ ​neck​ ​stand​ ​up​ ​as​ ​he escaped​ ​the​ ​fifth​ ​inning​ ​still​ ​flawless.​ ​It’s​ ​one​ ​thing​ ​to​ ​have​ ​a​ ​nice​ ​start​ ​to​ ​an​ ​outing,​ ​but​ ​once​ ​you make​ ​it​ ​out​ ​of​ ​the​ ​fifth​ ​inning​ ​with​ ​a​ ​no-hitter​ ​intact,​ ​you​ ​go​ ​for​ ​glory.​ ​And,​ ​man,​ ​did​ ​Halladay​ ​go for​ ​glory.​ ​

After​ ​he​ ​retired​ ​the​ ​side​ ​in​ ​the​ ​eighth​ ​inning​ ​MLB​ ​Network​ ​switched​ ​from​ ​the​ ​daily show​ ​“Hot​ ​Stove”​ ​to​ ​the​ ​Phillies​ ​game​ ​to​ ​see​ ​if​ ​he​ ​could​ ​finish​ ​off​ ​the​ ​no-no.​ ​Not​ ​only​ ​did​ ​The Doc​ ​maintain​ ​the​ ​no-hitter,​ ​he​ ​remained​ ​perfect.​ ​27​ ​batters​ ​faced.​ ​27​ ​batters​ ​retired​ ​by​ ​#34.​ ​I’ll never​ ​forget​ ​how​ ​excited​ ​I​ ​was​ ​when​ ​3B​ ​Juan​ ​Castro​ ​fielded​ ​the​ ​ground​ ​ball​ ​for​ ​the​ ​final​ ​out.​ ​I feared​ ​the​ ​ball​ ​might​ ​sneak​ ​passed​ ​him​ ​but​ ​once​ ​he​ ​got​ ​a​ ​glove​ ​on​ ​it​ ​I​ ​knew​ ​that​ ​was​ ​ball​ ​game. I​ ​jumped​ ​and​ ​ran​ ​around​ ​my​ ​living​ ​room​ ​as​ ​the​ ​Phils​ ​huddled​ ​around​ ​Halladay​ ​in​ ​celebration.​ ​It was​ ​the​ ​performance​ ​of​ ​a​ ​lifetime,​ ​yet​ ​Halladay​ ​remained​ ​grounded.​ ​

The​ ​pitching​ ​ace​ ​lauded catcher​ ​Carlos​ ​Ruiz,​ ​saying,​ ​”I​ ​can’t​ ​say​ ​enough​ ​about​ ​the​ ​job​ ​that​ ​Ruiz​ ​did​ ​tonight,​ ​really.​ ​I​ ​felt like​ ​he​ ​was​ ​calling​ ​a​ ​great​ ​game​ ​up​ ​until​ ​the​ ​fourth​ ​or​ ​fifth,​ ​and​ ​at​ ​that​ ​point,​ ​I​ ​just​ ​felt​ ​like​ ​I’d​ ​let him​ ​take​ ​over​ ​and​ ​go​ ​with​ ​him.​ ​He​ ​did​ ​a​ ​great​ ​job.​ ​Like​ ​I​ ​said,​ ​it​ ​was​ ​kind​ ​of​ ​a​ ​no-brainer​ ​for​ ​me.” Halladay​ ​had​ ​just​ ​pitched​ ​the​ ​20th​ ​perfect​ ​game​ ​in​ ​the​ ​history​ ​of​ ​the​ ​MLB​ ​and​ ​took​ ​hardly​ ​any credit.​ ​He​ ​was​ ​a​ ​class​ ​act​ ​in​ ​every​ ​way​ ​and​ ​the​ ​fans​ ​loved​ ​him​ ​for​ ​it.

​​Fast​ ​forward​ ​to​ ​4:00​ ​EST​ ​on​ ​November​ ​7th,​ ​2017.​ ​Fifteen​ ​long,​ ​daunting​ ​minutes​ ​before​ ​the Pasco​ ​sheriff​ ​would​ ​identify​ ​the​ ​deceased​ ​pilot.​ ​My​ ​stomach​ ​was​ ​in​ ​knots​ ​as​ ​I​ ​read​ ​people’s speculation​ ​and​ ​assumptions​ ​about​ ​the​ ​plane​ ​crash​ ​online.​ ​It​ ​was​ ​odd​ ​feeling​ ​sad​ ​about something​ ​related​ ​to​ ​Roy​ ​Halladay,​ ​because​ ​he​ ​was​ ​such​ ​a​ ​bright​ ​spot​ ​during​ ​a​ ​difficult​ ​time​ ​in my​ ​life.

The​ ​year​ ​2011​ ​was​ ​a​ ​tough​ ​one​ ​for​ ​me.​ ​It​ ​was​ ​the​ ​year​ ​I​ ​moved​ ​from​ ​my​ ​hometown Saint​ ​Louis,​ ​MO​ ​to​ ​small​ ​town​ ​near​ ​Dallas,​ ​TX.​ ​I​ ​had​ ​to​ ​leave​ ​all​ ​the​ ​friends​ ​and​ ​family​ ​I’d​ ​ever known​ ​behind​ ​and​ ​start​ ​a​ ​new​ ​journey​ ​in​ ​a​ ​place​ ​I​ ​didn’t​ ​want​ ​to​ ​be.​ ​I​ ​lived​ ​in​ ​a​ ​one​ ​bedroom hotel​ ​with​ ​my​ ​family​ ​of​ ​three​ ​and​ ​three​ ​hearty​ ​meals​ ​a​ ​day​ ​was​ ​far​ ​from​ ​a​ ​sure​ ​thing.​ ​The​ ​one thing​ ​that​ ​distracted​ ​my​ ​middle​ ​school​ ​mind​ ​from​ ​all​ ​the​ ​change;​ ​however,​ ​was​ ​the​ ​Roy​ ​Halladay led​ ​2011​ ​Phillies.​ ​The​ ​Phils​ ​were​ ​scorching​ ​hot​ ​that​ ​season​ ​as​ ​they​ ​cruised​ ​their​ ​way​ ​to​ ​the​ ​best record​ ​in​ ​the​ ​MLB.​ ​I​ ​ate,​ ​slept,​ ​and​ ​breathed​ ​Phillies​ ​baseball​ ​and​ ​Halladay​ ​was​ ​the​ ​primary source​ ​of​ ​my​ ​passion.​ ​Pitching​ ​was​ ​always​ ​the​ ​most​ ​fascinating​ ​part​ ​of​ ​baseball​ ​in​ ​my​ ​opinion and​ ​Halladay​ ​was​ ​the​ ​best​ ​in​ ​all​ ​of​ ​baseball​ ​that​ ​season.​ ​Doc​ ​Halladay​ ​was​ ​absolutely​ ​surgical as​ ​he​ ​lead​ ​the​ ​star-studded​ ​“Phantastic​ ​Phour”​ ​pitching​ ​staff​ ​of​ ​Cliff​ ​Lee,​ ​Cole​ ​Hamels,​ ​and​ ​Roy Oswalt.​ ​Halladay​ ​finished​ ​with​ ​a​ ​19-6​ ​record-​ ​one​ ​season​ ​removed​ ​from​ ​a​ ​21-10​ ​campaign(!)- with​ ​an​ ​absurd​ ​2.35​ ​ERA​ ​over​ ​233​ ​⅔​ ​innings.​ ​He​ ​was​ ​flossing​ ​his​ ​teeth​ ​with​ ​the​ ​National League​ ​batters​ ​and​ ​I​ ​could​ ​hardly​ ​get​ ​through​ ​a​ ​day​ ​without​ ​thinking​ ​of​ ​him​ ​raising​ ​the​ ​World Series​ ​trophy​ ​over​ ​his​ ​head​ ​with​ ​all​ ​his​ ​teammates​ ​around​ ​him.

​​Fast​ ​forward​ ​ahead​ ​to​ ​4:05​ ​EST​ ​November​ ​7th,​ ​2017.​ ​Ten​ ​minutes​ ​before​ ​the​ ​big announcement.​ ​I​ ​can​ ​barely​ ​sit​ ​still​ ​as​ ​I​ ​await​ ​for​ ​the​ ​big​ ​announcement.​ ​I​ ​pray​ ​for​ ​Halladay​ ​to tweet​ ​out​ ​that​ ​he’s​ ​okay,​ ​but​ ​time​ ​is​ ​ticking​ ​and​ ​no​ ​such​ ​tweet​ ​materializes.​ ​I’m​ ​desperate​ ​for​ ​a relief​ ​and​ ​suddenly​ ​burst​ ​out​ ​in​ ​laughter​ ​as​ ​I​ ​recall​ ​one​ ​of​ ​my​ ​funniest​ ​Roy​ ​Halladay​ ​related events.

​ When​ ​I​ ​was​ ​in​ ​the​ ​seventh​ ​grade​ ​I​ ​spent​ ​every​ ​second​ ​of​ ​my​ ​spare​ ​time​ ​trying​ ​to​ ​emulate Halladay’s​ ​perfect​ ​game​ ​against​ ​the​ ​Marlins​ ​on​ ​MLB​ ​the​ ​Show​ ​11.​ ​Halladay’s​ ​command​ ​was excellent​ ​in​ ​the​ ​game,​ ​just​ ​as​ ​it​ ​was​ ​in​ ​reality,​ ​so​ ​I​ ​would​ ​paint​ ​the​ ​corners​ ​on​ ​my​ ​quest​ ​to​ ​in game​ ​perfection.​ ​Ironically,​ ​the​ ​only​ ​obstacle​ ​in​ ​my​ ​way​ ​was​ ​Roy​ ​Halladay’s​ ​MLB​ ​2k11​ ​cover.

Whenever​ ​I​ ​had​ ​a​ ​full​ ​count​ ​in​ ​the​ ​6th​ ​or​ ​7th​ ​inning​ ​of​ ​a​ ​perfect​ ​game​ ​in​ ​MLB​ ​the​ ​Show​ ​I​ ​would throw​ ​a​ ​pitch​ ​that​ ​had​ ​been​ ​called​ ​a​ ​strike​ ​all​ ​game​ ​long,​ ​but​ ​was​ ​erroneously​ ​ruled​ ​a​ ​ball.​ ​I​ ​was always​ ​baffled​ ​at​ ​the​ ​call​ ​before​ ​I​ ​noticed​ ​Eric​ ​Karros,​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the​ ​commentators​ ​in​ ​the​ ​game, states​ ​“Usually​ ​he’d​ ​get​ ​that​ ​call,​ ​but​ ​I​ ​think​ ​he’s​ ​on​ ​the​ ​cover​ ​of​ ​the​ ​wrong​ ​game.”​ ​I​ ​laughed​ ​my head​ ​off​ ​thinking​ ​of​ ​all​ ​the​ ​times​ ​I’d​ ​tried​ ​to​ ​throw​ ​a​ ​perfect​ ​game​ ​with​ ​the​ ​Doc,​ ​just​ ​to​ ​find​ ​out​ ​it was​ ​impossible​ ​because​ ​the​ ​game​ ​developers​ ​were​ ​salty​ ​about​ ​him​ ​choosing​ ​a​ ​different​ ​brand. I​ ​mean,​ ​come​ ​on.​ ​How​ ​salty​ ​do​ ​you​ ​have​ ​to​ ​be​ ​to​ ​program​ ​a​ ​Roy​ ​Halladay​ ​perfect​ ​game impossibility​ ​code​ ​into​ ​the​ ​game?

​ My​ ​smile​ ​was​ ​quickly​ ​stolen​ ​from​ ​me​ ​as​ ​the​ ​news​ ​finally​ ​broke.​ ​Roy​ ​Halladay,​ ​40,​ ​passed away​ ​in​ ​the​ ​car​ ​crash.​ ​I​ ​punched​ ​the​ ​wall​ ​and​ ​yelled​ ​in​ ​anger/disbelief,​ ​feeling​ ​that​ ​bad​ ​things always​ ​happen​ ​to​ ​the​ ​best​ ​of​ ​humanity.​ ​My​ ​anger​ ​quickly​ ​turned​ ​into​ ​overwhelming​ ​sadness​ ​as​ ​I wept​ ​over​ ​my​ ​fallen​ ​childhood​ ​hero.​ ​Doc​ ​Halladay.​ ​8x​ ​All-Star.​ ​2x​ ​MLB​ ​Wins​ ​Leader.​ ​2x​ ​Cy Young​ ​Award​ ​Winner.​ ​My​ ​hero.

​ ​Roy​ ​Halladay​ ​was​ ​an​ ​excellent​ ​ball​ ​player​ ​but​ ​an​ ​even​ ​greater​ ​man​ ​off​ ​the​ ​field.​ ​He​ ​taught humility​ ​and​ ​hard​ ​work​ ​to​ ​anyone​ ​who​ ​would​ ​listen​ ​and​ ​never​ ​had​ ​a​ ​negative​ ​thing​ ​to​ ​say.​ ​His absence​ ​is​ ​something​ ​I’m​ ​not​ ​sure​ ​I’ll​ ​ever​ ​fully​ ​recover​ ​from,​ ​but​ ​I’m​ ​incredibly​ ​thankful​ ​for​ ​the impact​ ​he​ ​made​ ​on​ ​my​ ​life,​ ​as​ ​well​ ​as​ ​countless​ ​others.

In​ ​the​ ​words​ ​of​ ​the​ ​great​ ​Babe​ ​Ruth,​ ​“Heroes​ ​get​ ​remembered,​ ​but​ ​legends​ ​never​ ​die.” Halladay​ ​will​ ​be​ ​remembered​ ​for​ ​his​ ​on​ ​field​ ​heroics,​ ​but​ ​the​ ​legacy​ ​he​ ​leaves​ ​behind​ ​will​ ​never fade.​ ​Rest​ ​in​ ​Power,​ ​Roy​ ​“Doc”​ ​Halladay.

 

Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

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