Halladay re­mem­bered as ‘awe-strik­ing,’ ‘beau­ti­ful’

Edmonton Journal - - SPORTS - STEVE BUFFERY

Roy (Doc) Halladay’s fam­ily, friends and for­mer team­mates spoke of his com­pas­sion, his hu­mour, his work ethic, his ded­i­ca­tion, even his fear­less­ness.

Most of all, they spoke of his hu­man­ity, how he was an even bet­ter per­son than a pitcher. That as­pect of Halladay’s per­son­al­ity has shone brightly in the days since the all-star pitcher’s sud­den death last week, and it did again on Tues­day.

At the cel­e­bra­tion of Halladay’s life at Spec­trum Field, the spring train­ing ball­park for the Philadel­phia Phillies, tears and laugh­ter mixed as peo­ple close to the for­mer ace spoke emo­tion­ally about the man they lost on Nov. 7 when his plane crashed into the Gulf of Mex­ico off the coast of Florida. He was 40.

“He was awe-strik­ing. He was beau­ti­ful inside and out,” Halladay’s wife Brandy said through tears as she ad­dressed the large gath­er­ing. “When he spoke, peo­ple lis­tened. And I re­ally hope I can find the right words to be able ex­press how I’m feel­ing and to hon­our the man I’m still lucky enough to call my husband.”

Other than Brandy and his fa­ther Roy Halladay Jr., no one spoke more lov­ingly than for­mer Toronto Blue Jays team­mate Chris Carpenter, who re­called the time the pair of pitch­ers went fish­ing in the jun­gles of Brazil.

“One of the days we went fish­ing, it was like 100 de­grees out and he wanted to jump into the Ama­zon river. Re­mem­ber, we’re in the jun­gle,” Carpenter said. “The wa­ter is as clear as a cup of cof­fee and we’ve been catch­ing pi­ra­nhas all day. I looked at him and said, ‘You’re freak­ing nuts.’ He said, ‘I know, but we can say we swam in the Ama­zon River, and who do we know that can say that?’”

“Be­fore I knew it, Doc belly flopped into that cof­fee-coloured wa­ter. He pro­ceeded to back­stroke around,” added Carpenter, who jumped in af­ter him be­fore they both climbed out and hoisted a beer to cel­e­brate.

A na­tive of Den­ver, he was the Jays’ first se­lec­tion in the 1995 draft and pitched for Toronto from 1998 to 2008 and for Philadel­phia from 2009 to 2013, fin­ish­ing with a 203-105 record.

He threw a per­fect game in 2010, and that fall pitched the sec­ond post-sea­son no-hit­ter in big league his­tory. He was an eight-time all-star.

The sto­ries on Tues­day flowed like the pace of the game when Halladay pitched. It was a credit to the man that such a large rep­re­sen­ta­tion from his two for­mer clubs were present.

The Toronto fam­ily at the in­cluded GMs past and present: Pat Gil­lick, J.P. Ric­cia­rdi, Alex An­thopou­los and Ross Atkins. Past and cur­rent Jays pres­i­dents Paul God­frey and Mark Shapiro were on hand, along with me­dia guru Jay Sten­house, ex-man­ager Cito Gas­ton, head ath­letic trainer Ge­orge Poulis and for­mer team­mates Carpenter, Jose Bautista, Aaron Hill, Frank Thomas, John McDon­ald, Lyle Over­bay, Scott Rolen, B.J. Ryan, Josh Tow­ers, Orlando Hud­son, Ja­son Fra­sor and J.A. Happ.

Halladay’s Philadel­phia fam­ily at the ser­vice in­cluded his for­mer man­ager Char­lie Manuel and team­mates Cole Hamels and Chase Ut­ley.

Poulis be­came close to Halladay dur­ing the pitcher’s time with the Jays, as he con­stantly worked to keep the two-time Cy Young Award win­ner, who had a leg­endary work ethic, healthy.

“On the days the Doc pitched, we had a say­ing be­tween us. When I was done work­ing on him, I would say, ‘Doc, have a good one,’ be­fore he left the train­ing room to warm up,” said Poulis, adding that Halladay wouldn’t head to the field un­less Poulis said the words. “He would re­main true to that ev­ery time he pitched. I look around at Roy’s fam­ily, friends, team­mates and staff today and I see sad­ness in their eyes that they will never see Roy again. But the mem­o­ries of his life and the pas­sion of how he lived and how many peo­ple’s lives he touched will live on for­ever.

“So, I say in clos­ing, ‘Doc, have a good one.’ ”

A pair of pic­tures adorned the in­field dur­ing the me­mo­rial, just be­hind the pitch­ing mound, one of Halladay in a Phillies uni­form and an­other in the blue and white of the Jays, with the num­bers he wore with both teams — 34 and 32 — staged in a flo­ral ar­range­ment.

When the two-hour cel­e­bra­tion ended, Brandy Halladay and sons Braden and Ryan re­leased but­ter­flies into the air from the mound. It seemed like the but­ter­flies didn’t want to escape their cap­tiv­ity, just like peo­ple at the ser­vice didn’t want to leave their chairs af­ter.

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