Doc’s warmth, hu­man­ity re­called

National Post (Latest Edition) - - POST SPORTS - Steve Buffery

Roy “Doc” Halladay’s fam­ily, friends and f ormer t eam­mates spoke of his com­pas­sion, his hu­mour, his work ethic, his ded­i­ca­tion, even his fear­less­ness.

But most of all, they spoke of his hu­man­ity, how he was an even bet­ter per­son than he was 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 ICON A5 am­phibi­ous plane crashed into the Gulf of Mex­ico, just 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.”

Along with Brandy and his fa­ther, Roy Halladay Jr., no one spoke more lov­ingly than ex-Jays team­mate Chris Carpenter, who re­called the time the pair of pitch­ers went fish­ing in the jun­gles of Brazil. The ad­ven­ture that spoke vol­umes about Halladay’s per­son­al­ity.

“One of the days we went fish­ing, it was like 100 ( F) 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 f l opped i nto t hat cof­fee- coloured wa­ter. He pro­ceeded to back­stroke around,” added Carpenter, who even­tu­ally jumped in af­ter him, be­fore they both climbed out and hoisted a beer to cel­e­brate.

The s t ories 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, the Jays and Phillies, were present.

The Toronto f amily at t he me­mo­rial i ncluded 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 also on hand, along with me­dia guru Jay Sten­house, ex- man­ager Cito Gas­ton, head ath­letic trainer Ge­orge Poulis, and for­mer team­mates Carpenter, Jose Baut i sta, Aaron Hill, Frank Thomas, John McDon­ald, Lyle Over­bay, Scott Rolen, B. J. Ryan, Josh Tow­ers, Orlando Hud­son, Ja­son Fra­sor, J. A. Happ, Scott Rolen and Ernie Whitt.

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 life’s 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.

Phillies owner John Mid­dle­ton spoke of Halladay’s char­ity work, in­clud­ing Doc’s Box at the Rogers Cen­tre where he would in­vite kids be­ing treated at Toronto’s Sick­kids hos­pi­tal and their fam­i­lies to watch games and the ran­dom acts of kind­ness he per­formed through­out his MLB ca­reer.

It’s a sen­ti­ment echoed by God­frey, who served as Jays pres­i­dent/CEO from 2000 to 2008.

“We had him in front of us for too short a pe­riod of time, a great hu­man be­ing be- fore an out­stand­ing baseball player,” God­frey said. “I don’t think there was a dry eye in the sta­dium. The emo­tions I saw in here today were over­whelm­ing.”

Proudly, God­frey keeps a Jays jer­sey signed by Halladay hang­ing in his of­fice in the Post­media build­ing on Bloor Street in Toronto.

For­mer Jays scout­ing di­rec­tor Bob En­gle, who met Halladay the year be­fore the club drafted him, broke up talk­ing about the last time he spoke to Halladay, when the pitcher was in­ducted into the Cana­dian Baseball Hall of Fame this past June.

“I called him to con­grat­u­late him and he said, ‘ How many years has it been Bob?’” said En­gle, stop­ping to com­pose him­self as the tears started to flow. “I told him 44 years and he started to chuckle. And we talked. You al­ways knew he had your back. He was the best of the best.”


Brandy Halladay, wife of late pitcher Roy Halladay, wipes her eyes while talk­ing about her husband Tues­day.

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