Halladay was Canada’s pitcher
The news of Roy Halladay’s death in a plane crash at the age of 40 has shocked fans across the nation. He wasn’t just a Blue Jays pitcher; he was Canada’s pitcher. And he saved Toronto from 20 years of Blue Jays mediocrity.
The 2000s were a time when interest in baseball in the city was waning — there was very little to cheer about, and the number of empty seats in the bleachers showed that. The other Can- adian team, the Montreal Expos, had already relocated to Washington, and Toronto fans could be forgiven f or t hinking t heir t eam might be headed down that same path. But Blue Jays fans still had something to cheer about: they had Halladay.
These were the days of “Toonie Tuesdays” and Gustavo Chacin cologne giveaways — anything to get bodies in seats. But the one thing Blue Jays fans could look forward to was a Halladay start every five days.
I was a kid at the time, but I can still remember the excitement of going to a Blue Jays game — a team most l i kely approaching the bottom of the AL East at that point — to watch a Halladay start.
Sure, you knew that the Jays would probably not be competing in October, but you were nevertheless certain to witness a performance by a winner: a future hall- of- famer, a Cy Young champion, and, most importantly, a standup human being.
Halladay paired up with the Hospital for Sick Chil- dren to create Doc’s Box, a luxury suite from which kids being treated at the hospital could watch the game. He donated $ 100,000 a year to the Jays Care Foundation. And when he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in 2009, he took out a full-page ad in the Toronto Sun that said: “Toronto will forever have a special place in my heart. The memories will last a lifetime and so will my gratitude.”
Before he retired in 2013, he made a final tribute to his Toronto fans: he signed a one-day contract so he could retire as a Blue Jay.
Being born in the nineties, I never really witnessed Blue Jays success until recently. I was too young to remember the back- to- back World Series wins in the early ’ 90s, so I had to wait decades to finally witness a Blue Jays playoff game. But during that time, Roy Halladay, “the Doc,” served as a childhood hero to me and many of my generation.
For the fans that came before me, the Blue Jays heroes include greats like Joe “touch em all” Carter, and Roberto Alomar ( the only player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame as a Blue Jay). For the fans that came after me, there is the legend Jose Bautista (of batflip fame).
But Halladay was a hero for everyone: he kept Blue Jays fandom alive during those mediocre couple decades, and paved the way for bat flips, monumental home runs and a return to Blue Jays post season games.
Roy Halladay will leave an indelible mark on the Blue Jays franchise. He will be missed.