The Toronto Blue Jays Hall of Famer who tragically passed away in 2017 would have been 45 years old today.
May 14, 1977 Harry Leroy Halladay the Third was born in Denver, Colorado to his parents Linda and Roy the Second. His dad saw so much talent in his son that he ensured that there was a 60 foot 6 inch space in their home basement in Armada, Colorado. Roy would meet a Colorado sports legend by the name of Bus Campbell when he was 13 and his path was almost set.
After dominating the Colorado high school circuit going 26-2 over his tenure, Halladay was named as a First team All American. He turned down a scholarship to go the University of Arizona after being drafted years later by Bus Campbell and the Toronto Blue Jays. In 1995, Halladay felt the Blue Jays who were just coming off back-to-back World Series were onto something big and that’s why he moved forward with the club.
Halladay would ascend through the Blue Jays Minor League system to make his first start on September 20, 1998 at Tropicana Field against the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He would go five innings and give up three earned runs to a decent lineup that featured Wade Boggs and Fred McGriff in their later years. Halladay gave us all a glimpse of what could come in his next start.
September 27, 1998 was the last game of the season. The Detroit Tigers were in town facing Roy Halladay and the Toronto Blue Jays. Roy, who was 21 at the time, was making his first home start in front of just over 38,000 fans. What we saw in a game that was supposed to be meaningless was turned meaningful by the performance he gave.
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Halladay pounded the strike zone that day and was locked in from the time that umpire Jim Mckean said play ball. Halladay had a near perfect game going until the bottom of the 9th. A Felipe Crespo throwing error led to the only baserunner the Tigers had. Halladay retired the first two batters in the 9th until manager Larry Parrish sent up their All-Star slugger Bobby Higginson to face Halladay. Higginson, batting left-handed, took an 0-2 pitch on the outer half of the plate into the Blue Jays bullpen in left field. Dave Stieb caught that ball, how ironic is that?
After an okay 1999 season Halladay started to struggle, and he lost command of his pitches. In 2001 Blue Jays General Manager Gord Ash along with Manager Buck Martinez and Pitching Coach Mark Connor would send Halladay all the way down to the Florida State League to rebuild his confidence. The man tasked with rebuilding him was long time member of the organization and roving pitching coordinator Mel Queen.
Queen and Halladay executed on the team’s plan. Halladay’s delivery would be altered, as he would put his hands over his head and went to a ¾ arm slot from his previous over the top. Halladay became a lot more methodical with his routine and his work on the mound. He would return to have success in the 2001 season working out of the bullpen and making a few starts.
Halladay would win 19 games in 2002 and win the Cy Young in 2003. His starts became must see for all Blue Jays fans. He picked up a great cutter later on and we all marvelled at what he did with it. When we talk about phenomenal stretches and runs in club history, there was no one, and quite frankly, there could be no one that touches Halladay’s work from 2002-2009.
Halladay was traded to Philadelphia Phillies ahead of the 2010 season. Imagine what Jose Bautista’s 54 home runs and the 2010 Toronto Blue Jays could have done with Roy Halladay?
As you all know Roy would have tremendous success with Philadelphia and he would retire after the 2013 season as a Toronto Blue Jay.
Halladay would be inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame the Saturday before Father’s Day in 2017. He would pass away less then 5 months later.
Roy Halladay inspired players and fans alike. He gave them inspiration to go out and be better, and to help their community. He was a Hall of Famer on and off the field. Happy Birthday Roy. Thank you for all that you did.