Monday, December 09, 2013


Doc is Hanging Up the Spikes

Some of us were caught napping today when we read that “Doc” Halladay was retiring from baseball. In a move with some precedent, he signed a contract with the Toronto Blue Jays, so that he would retire as a Jay. He did spend the past four seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies, but the bulk of his career, twelve seasons, was spent on the mound for the Jays.


For many of us, the trips to the ballpark in Toronto to see Halladay on the mound were so worthwhile. He brought a special kind of magic to the game, and showed us how the game could be played, without the assistance of performance enhancing drugs.


At six feet, six inches, he had an advantage from the mound. When he crossed the white line, and headed to the rubber, it was all business. There was little hesitation between pitches, and when he had his best stuff, you were almost guaranteed to be out of the park in less than two hours. Nowadays, games will drag on for more than three hours.


Harry Leroy Halladay was a first round draft pick by the Jays in 1995. But it was not until September 20, 1998, that he would begin his work with the Jays. Never considered to be an overpowering pitcher, he worked hitters with nasty stuff. He could hit the spots, and make the ball dance with his variety of pitches. He drove batters to distraction.


Baseball is noted for its myriad of statistics, and Doc’s name is near the top of the list in many categories. He logged a lot of innings for the Jays, appearing in more than 400 games, with 2749 innings to his credit. He was a workhorse, and he is now paying the price. He says that he is retiring because of problems with his back.


At the end of the career of a great baseball player, there is always discussion about his entry into the Hall of Fame. For a pitcher, the yardstick has always been 300 wins. That is changed in recent years, for a variety of reasons. Halladay won only 203 games; however, he will be given serious consideration for the Hall for several other reasons. He won a Cy Young Award as the best pitcher in both the American and National Leagues.


He pitched a perfect game, then added a no-hitter in his first post season start with the Phillies in 2010. He won 22 games in 2003, still a Blue Jay club record.


Another dominant pitcher who came up with the Jays, Chris Carpenter, has also announced his retirement from the St. Louis Cardinals. He also stood six inches over six feet. He spent six seasons with the Jays, and amassed 2 219 innings in his career. He also won a Cy Young in 2005, and was the Comeback Player of the Year in 2009, after sitting out the 2008 season in rehabilitation.

As the Jays improved nearing the 2010 season, it would have been a treat to see a healthy Carpenter working with Halladay as Blue Jays. That was not to be, and the Jays have not won all of the marbles for several years.


Halladay’s legacy also includes the work he did for the community, through the Jays Care Foundation, and through his own quiet efforts.


Without being too cynical, it is worth a mention to say that there will not be a tag day for either Halladay or Carpenter. Carpenter made almost one hundred million dollars in his career, and Halladay a hundred and a half. Not too shabby.


But the game has lost two classy individuals.



James Hurst



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