Blue Jays: The influence of Doc

TORONTO, CANADA - APRIL 4: Former player Roy Halladay
TORONTO, CANADA - APRIL 4: Former player Roy Halladay /

Yesterday, the baseball world lost a legend when Roy Halladay died in a plane crash in the Gulf of Mexico.

Roy Halladay meant lots to many people. Pretty much anyone who followed baseball from 1998 to 2013 felt his influence. This includes players we know and love, from David Aardsma and Marcus Stroman to Pedro Martinez and Michael Young.

But he also influenced the pitcher on your little league team, your coach who used Halladay’s work ethic to instill what it meant to be a baseball player, and even you. He made watching baseball exciting.

I was young when Halladay was with the Jays. I was born the same year he made his debut, in 1998, so I grew up with him as the featured player on the Jays. All I knew of Blue Jays baseball was  Roy Halladay.

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As a young ballplayer in this era of the Jays, everyone wanted to either be a pitcher, like Halladay, or a centre fielder, like Vernon Wells. What I loved about Halladay was that he made waves in the US. Being a sports fan in Canada, it sometimes feels like you don’t matter to the Americans, especially with Canada having just one MLB team. They have so many great stars, that sometimes the Jays get overlooked.

As a kid, I had a subscription to Sports Illustrated Kids. One of my favourite parts of the magazine was getting the paper sports cards, and being able to make my own teams out of them. I would collect great players, like Albert Pujols, Manny Ramirez, and Derek Jeter. But the best card I got was a Roy Halladay Blue Jays card. It made me so happy to know that the Jays were being recognized outside of Canada, and because of Doc.

When you talked about the Jays, it was about Roy Halladay. In an age when complete games were starting to dissipate, he made them popular. The workhorse pitched 67 complete games in his career.

One of my saddest days as a Jays fan was when Halladay was traded to the Phillies. I knew a lot about baseball, but I couldn’t wrap my head around why a player like Halladay would want to leave the Jays. I thought all they had to do was sign him, and he could be a Jay again. Unfortunately, baseball is a business.

But despite him leaving the Jays, he came back on a one day contract to officially retire as a Blue Jay. I remember telling some people this, and they were confused as to why a player would sign a one day contract just to retire as a certain team. The simple answer is legacy. Halladay left such a legacy on the Jays, that can’t be matched. This legacy includes being named by Sportsnet as the third best player in franchise history, only behind baseball legends in Dave Stieb (2) and Roberto Alomar (1).

It’s amazing to see the outpouring of grief from baseball players about this tragedy. Kevin Gausman mentioned how, growing up in Colorado, where Halladay is from, made Halladay his hero.

Brandon McCarthy made a great point on twitter, saying this:

It’s weird to think that players we look up to, looked up to Halladay too. It really shows what type of player he was. Lots of players and baseball personalities have commented on his demeanour, being a great player, and even better person.

As a hopeful journalist, Halladay was one of my dream interviews. He was a hero to me and my brother, and as baseball players we could only dream of being a sliver of the player he was. But that didn’t keep us from dreaming.

This is a sad day. I was devastated when I heard the news, and it’ll be hard to recover from this. It’s always a sad day when a great person dies, but when they die way too early, it only stings that much more.

Next: Blue Jays: Predictions as free agency opens

The great thing about Halladay is that his legacy will live on in the players he inspired. He’s hopefully going to go to the Hall of Fame in 2019, as possibly, only the second Blue Jay in there. This would only cement his legacy, that most of us have already felt.