Blue Jays saw hall in Halladay on and off the field
|Toronto Star 20 Jan 2019 at 16:04|
When the late, great right-hander ‚ÄĒ who retired in 2013 after throwing 67 complete games in 390 starts over 16 seasons, 12 as a Jay ‚ÄĒ was on the mound, the bullpen almost always caught a break.
The late Roy Halladay, the long-time Blue Jays ace who was killed in a plane crash in 2017, is on track for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.¬†¬†(Marc Serota / GETTY IMAGES file photo)
‚ÄúYou never know, but 99 times out of 100 the guy was going seven (innings),‚ÄĚ former Jays reliever Jason Frasor said at the club‚Äôs weekend Winter Fest at the Rogers Centre. ‚ÄúYou just get your closer ready and game over.‚ÄĚ
Consistency is what many of the players who shared a clubhouse with Halladay remembered most about the man they called Doc ‚ÄĒ who died tragically at age 40 when his single-passenger plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico in November, 2017.
His meticulous work habits led to two Cy Young awards ‚ÄĒ one with the Jays, one with the Philadelphia Phillies ‚ÄĒ and a record of achievement that‚Äôs expected to make him a first-ballot hall of famer when the final numbers are announced on Tuesday. By Sunday afternoon, Halladay had appeared on 92.5 per cent of the ballots made public in a process that requires 75 per cent for induction.
‚ÄúHe‚Äôs in, he‚Äôs in,‚ÄĚ Frasor said of Halladay‚Äôs Cooperstown credentials. ‚ÄúFor those (12) years, Roy Halladay was the best, best pitcher, best starting pitcher ‚ÄĒ or at least top two or three.‚ÄĚ
Halladay‚Äôs work ethic was legendary, said former teammate Pat Hentgen, who won the American League Cy Young in 1996, seven years before Doc‚Äôs first.
‚ÄúThey always say it‚Äôs easy to get (to the big leagues but) it‚Äôs hard to stay,‚ÄĚ said Hentgen, who pitched for the Jays for 10 seasons and was Halladay‚Äôs teammate in the majors for two. ‚ÄúAs a minor league player you think to yourself, ‚ÄėThere‚Äôs no way that‚Äôs true.‚Äô But when you get to the big leagues and you realize how tough it is, and how the competition is just so fierce, it‚Äôs a true statement.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúDoc always worked really hard, and I think that‚Äôs how he maintained that high level of play.‚ÄĚ
Hentgen added that it was apparent during their playing days that Halladay, an eight-time all-star, was pitching at a hall of fame level: ‚ÄúBeing able to maintain it for over a decade, I think, is quite remarkable, and that‚Äôs why he‚Äôs getting the recognition he deserves.‚ÄĚ
The Halladay family had yet to announce which team logo would appear on the pitcher‚Äôs plaque in Cooperstown. After a dozen years in Toronto, he was traded to the Phillies and won the NL Cy Young in his first season (2010), then finished second in the voting the following year. He also threw a no-hitter in his first career post-season start as a Phillie in 2010.
When it came time to call it quits, though ‚ÄĒ early, at age 35, after a series of shoulder injuries ‚ÄĒ he signed a ceremonial one-day contract to retire as a Jay in December, 2013.
If Halladay does go in as a Blue Jay, he will double the club‚Äôs hall of fame content, joining Roberto Alomar ‚ÄĒ who was inducted in his second year of eligibility in 2011.
Alomar, whose Blue Jays playing career didn‚Äôt overlap with Halladay‚Äôs, called Doc ‚Äúfearless‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúreally tough to hit.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúAs a player and as a person, he meant a lot to us,‚ÄĚ added Alomar, now a special assistant with the Jays.
It‚Äôs Halladay‚Äôs personal side that sticks out for current Jays right-hander Aaron Sanchez, who happily remembered the time he had the chance to pick his idol‚Äôs brain one afternoon in 2016.
‚ÄúAs a person, he‚Äôs way beyond hall of fame,‚ÄĚ the 26-year-old Sanchez said. ‚ÄúThe type of knowledge that he passed on to the next generation and the amount of time he really gave to us ‚Ä¶ is something that I‚Äôll be forever grateful for.‚ÄĚ