Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Roy Halladay-Perennial All Star

I am quite certain that many of you readers have had the distinct pleasure of being at the Rogers Centre when Harry Leroy Halladay has taken the mound for the Toronto Blue Jays. “Doc” Halladay pitched his first game as a Blue Jay on September 20, 1998, and has been in a Blue Jays uniform ever since.

There has been a bit of idle chatter lately that he might not finish his career as a Jay. General Manager John Paul Ricciardi recently opened a can of worms by indicating that he might listen to trade offers with the name “Halladay” attached to them.

There was a flurry of activity around the All Star break, with almost every team in the running for a pennant interested in the lanky Blue Jay starter. Halladay had the nod as the opening pitcher for the American League, and I believe all of the trade hype may have affected his performance. He was a bit shaky.

His first start after the break was a typical Halladay performance. He scattered a few hits for the Boston Red Sox, had masterful control of his pitches, and completed nine innings to win his 142nd game as a major league pitcher.

Halladay is now 32 years old, and has a ways to go to reach the magic “300” number to automatically qualify as a Hall of Fame inductee; however, he has been an All Star six times, he has won the Cy Young Award as the best pitcher in the American League, and he is generally recognized as the most dominant pitcher in the game.

For the record, he tips the scales at 225 pounds, and stands six feet, six inches tall. He does not have an overpowering style of pitching. To him, pitching is a craft. When he was fourteen years of age, he attracted the attention of major league scouts with his work on the mound. He was selected in the first round, seventeenth overall, of the 1995 June First Year Player Draft.

Halladay has battled his share of injuries throughout his career. Most of his woes came from shoulder problems. On July 8, 2005, he took a batted ball off the shin, and spent the rest of the season on the disabled list. At the time, he had 12 wins and four losses, and ended the season with more complete games than any other pitcher in the American League.

There is a box at the Rogers Centre named “Doc’s Box”. In conjunction with the Jays Care Foundation, Roy Halladay and his wife Brandy play host to kids from the hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. During a recent Jays’ telecast, Brandy explained that Halladay personally visits the box before every game, unless he is the starting pitcher.

His demeanour during starting performances is well defined. He concentrates on the job at hand. He prepares every pitch, and analyses the results. He communicates with his catcher, his manager, and his pitching coach. He ignores all else. He gets into the zone, and stays there until the assignment is complete.

He has received countless accolades throughout his career. In 2009, he was named as number seven on the list of the current greatest players in the game. With continued success, he will move up that ladder as well.

A couple of years ago, I spoke with Halladay after the last home game of the season. Most of the other media types had left the dressing room, and many of the players were packing up to head home. Halladay was most gracious, chatting comfortably, graciously accepting my praise for his efforts, looking forward to the following season.

There is little that “Doc” needs to accomplish in the game. This business about needing a “Championship Ring” to be considered a success is utter hogwash. There is a long list of Hall of Fame pitchers who never won a championship. There are many who have multiple rings who are not in the Hall now, and never will be.

He is a joy to watch, there on the mound in Toronto. If you have not taken the opportunity to see him pitch, do so soon. Who knows what these trade winds may bring?

James Hurst

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