While it’s been tradition to wait for awhile after a player has finished playing to honour them, the Blue Jays should make 2018 the year of Roy Halladay.
Roy Halladay was a once in a generation type of pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays. When he took the mound through his 12 years with the team, excitement and confidence filled the ballpark, no matter how badly the team was struggling in a given year. When Doc was on the mound you had a chance to win, and you had a chance to see something special.
The former first round pick in the 1995 draft turned turned out to be one of the greatest players in franchise history, and kept the team interesting during some of the darker years in franchise history. He was fiercely loyal, and badly wanted to bring a championship to Toronto, and to the ony organization he had ever known. When it became clear that the team wasn’t built to do that before his career ended, only then did he move on to Philadelphia in pursuit of the elusive championship he never won.
I could talk about his many accomplishments, and there were plenty. Or I could talk about what a great person he was, and the accounts of his great character are endless. Do yourself a favour and search his name on Twitter, and within just a few minutes you’ll get a small sample size into the wonderful human being he was during his 40 years on this planet.
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Instead I’d like to talk about 2018, and how the Blue Jays need to make it the “Year of Roy Halladay” in as many ways as they can. Sew a #32 on to every jersey from Opening Day until the last pitch. Invite his family to the Rogers Centre and put his name on the Level of Excellence. I would even get plans started on constructing a statue of the Denver native, because that’s how much he means to the city of Toronto, and baseball fans across Canada.
We’ve had stars come and go throughout the history of the franchise, but you could make a solid argument that no player contributed as much on the field, while simultaneously being as committed to the team and the city. This is a man who was drafted by the organization at 17 and spent from age 21-32 eating and breathing Blue Jays’ baseball. HIs commitment to the game and his personal fitness was unmatched, and there’s not one former teammate that would call Halladay anything but an example of how to be a professional.
He was the epitome of class throughout his career, and in the early stages of retirement. He threw his last big league pitch in 2013, and has been doing all kinds of charity work and spending time with his real passion, his family. Despite being given plenty of opportunities in baseball since he hung up his spikes, he was content to pour more time into his family, and pursue other passions. The transition isn’t easy for some, but Halladay felt like he was done at age 36, and never looked back.
And even though 2018 will be just the fifth season since he retired from baseball, the Blue Jays shouldn’t waste any time in honouring him in every way possible. They can’t force the Hall of Fame to consider him early, but as I said above, I would love to see him on every shirt sleeve, as a statue outside the Rogers Centre, and on the Level of Excellence as soon as possible. He was and is deserving of every honour at the right time anyway, and this tragedy has expedited the process. The time to celebrate his career, and his life, is now.
To those that think sports don’t matter, then I would point to the large number of grown men I count as friends, who shed a tear for the good Doc today. We weep because one of our role models was taken too soon, and we weep because his family is missing a husband, and a father. And we weep because one of our heroes, one of the “good guys”, was is no longer with us at the age of just 40 years old, and that’s simply just fair.
Rest in peace good sir, and thank you for not only being a hero on the baseball field, but also a shining example as a human being.