Halladay ‘beautiful inside and out’
CLEARWATER, Fla. — Roy Halladay’s family, friends and former teammates 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 Doc 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 ball park of the Philadelphia Phillies — tears and laughter intermixed, often at the same time, as people close to the former Toronto Blue Jays and Phillies ace spoke tearfully about the man they lost on Nov. 7 when his plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida.
“He was awe-striking. He was beautiful inside and out,” Halladay’s widow Brandy said through tears as she addressed the 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 his father Roy Halladay Jr. and Brandy, no one spoke more lovingly than former Jays teammate Chris Carpenter, who recalled the time they 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 as well before they climbed out and hoisted a beer to celebrate.
The stories Tuesday flowed like the pace of the game when Halladay pitched and it was a credit to the man that such a large representation from his two teams were present. The Jays family at the memorial included GMs past and present Pat Gillick, J.P. Ricciardi, Alex Anthopoulos and Ross Atkins; past and current presidents Paul Godfrey and Mark Shapiro; media guru Jay Stenhouse; ex-manager Cito Gaston; head athletic trainer George Poulis; and former Toronto teammates and ex-Jays Carpenter, Jose Bautista, 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 and legendary workout fanatic 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,” Poulis said. 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 of Halladay adorned the infield during the memorial, just behind the pitching mound, one 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 — 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. They didn’t seem to want to escape their captivity, just like people at the service didn’t want to leave their chairs afterward.
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 in June.
“I called him to congratulate him and he said, ‘How many years has it been Bob?’ ” Engle said. “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, the widow of Roy Halladay, and her sons Braden, left, and Ryan release 32 butterflies during a memorial tribute for Halladay at the Philadelphia Phillies’ spring training stadium in Clearwater, Fla., on Tuesday. The 32 represents the number Halladay wore with the Toronto Blue Jays.