Roy Halladay was one of the best pitchers I’ve ever seen.
For perspective, here’s an incomplete list of other Hall of Fame, future Hall of Fame, and just plain great pitchers that I have specific recollections of having seen pitch live during their Major League careers, either in person or on television:
Roy Halladay was better than most of those guys.
Ryan, Maddux, Johnson, Pedro, Clemens, Rivera…he was as good as any of them, and consistently better than just about any active pitcher I’ve seen. His work ethic and preparation were unmatched (and the stuff of legend, to the point where I think he scared some of his contemporaries), and it was such a pleasure to watch him work, even if he was in the process of dismantling the team you typically rooted for.
While I never got to see him pitch in person, he’s the only pitcher I’ve ever seen throw a no-hitter in its entirety (only on television, but still). I’ve caught no-hitters in the middle, I’ve caught them at the end, I heard the first 4 innings of David Wells’ perfect game on the radio and thought “Man, he’s dealing today”, then got out of the car and found out about it later, but I saw every single pitch of Halladay’s postseason no-hitter, and save for a bullshit call that led to Jay Bruce’s walk (YEAH, I SAID IT, I DON’T CARE IF PEOPLE ARE TRYING TO BE CLASSY RIGHT NOW, JOHN HIRSCHBECK BLEW THAT CALL), it was glorious.
It is also worth mentioning that, for a guy who came of age in New York in the mid-1980s, Roy Halladay was so good that I was more than OK with people calling him “Doc”. In fact, when I woke up to messages about Roy’s passing a few hours ago, all I saw initially was “Doc”, and I feared the worst in those first few seconds for Dwight Gooden, before I realized that the person talking about “Doc” was Canadian, and then the wheels started turning in that direction. For the record, losing Doc Halladay this week is every bit as sad for me as things would’ve been had we lost Doc Gooden this week.
Since this is a site about collecting things, and I do collect baseball cards of Roy Halladay, I should probably talk some about that, too. I actually don’t have a huge number of his cards. Now, it should be said that I’m a set-builder more than a player collector, and I do have a good number of his cards in sets I’ve completed or am trying to complete (I’m pretty sure that I have all of his base Topps cards, including his rookie card, and I have the card at the top of this post, which was probably my favorite of his), but even with that in mind, and though I obviously liked him a bunch, Roy Halladay’s section in Box 1 of my star card boxes isn’t overflowing with cards the way Vladimir Guerrero’s and Wade Boggs’ sections are (a few dozen for Roy, compared to a couple hundred Vlads and about 100 Boggs cards). Looking through the rest of that box, the number of Roy’s cards I have would be about even with Felix Hernandez, which makes a little sense, as they were contemporaries as starting pitchers who I both liked. (I probably end up with more cards of position players than pitchers, even if I really love a lot of pitchers. Not sure why that is.) One of them’s still playing, though, so that’s not an entirely even comparison. It could just be that people are not usually willing to let go of their Roy Halladay cards, and I’d accept that as reasonable.
I also don’t have Roy’s autograph (and while this is about the most trivial part of this tragedy, to the point where I feel a little embarrassed even mentioning it, that just got a good deal harder to get), and I don’t have any game-used relic cards of his, either. I had one years ago, and I promptly gave it to a friend who is not a big card collector, but is one of the biggest Roy Halladay fans I know, and, in fact, is the person I mentioned above, who messaged me to tell me he’d passed. I know he already enjoyed it, but I hope he and his family continue to, even if it’s undoubtedly gonna be bittersweet moving forward.
Other people, much closer to the subject matter than I, are more qualified to speak about what kind of a guy he was, how he helped people, that sort of thing. I know some of the details, but not a lot. If you have stories about Roy, particularly stories about him doing good things that you’d like to share here, please, by all means, do so.
This is still…I dunno, I woke up in the middle of the night to this news, and, though I realize that it’s not uncommon to feel this way, it just doesn’t seem real somehow. It’s real, it pretty much always is, but it doesn’t feel that way. Roy Halladay was younger than me, seemed invincible within his chosen profession, and while he had a high risk hobby that’s claimed the lives of a few ballplayers in my lifetime, it’s still too early and too hard to process right now.
Rest in peace, Roy. I didn’t know you personally, but you still brought some joy into my life, and you’ll be missed.
I’ll wrap this up with a few more of my favorites of his.