Roy Halladay waits to be interviewed following his perfect game May 29, 2010 against the Marlins. Credit: Getty Images
Not every aging and injured Phillie from the disastrous 2013 season will return next year.
Roy Halladay signed a one-day contract to retire as a Toronto Blue Jay Monday afternoon in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Halladay, who broke down physically over the last two seasons, never won a World Series but enjoyed a spectacular career. The 36-year-old, who finished with a 203-105 mark, was arguably the most dominant pitcher of the first decade of this century.
The six-time All-Star, who won the Cy Young in both leagues, had incredible command in his prime.
“This is a guy who can place a ball exactly where he wants to with four different pitches,” Mark Teixeira said during spring training 2010.
Halladay lost that command last season and rather than endure back surgery, Doc, who had a major shoulder procedure last season, called it a career.
Phillies beat writers didn’t grasp the extent of Halladay’s work ethic until he made his Grapefruit league debut in 2010. Reporters expected Halladay to speak within a half hour of pitching two shutout innings. More than an hour passed and Halladay walked to his locker with a puzzled look on his face.
“Oh yeah, I’ll be back with you guys soon,” Halladay said. He resumed his workout for another 30 minutes before meeting the press.
Halladay didn’t just have a strong body but an equally powerful mind, which was packed with extreme tunnel vision.
“You won’t find a mentally tougher pitcher than Roy Halladay,” former Phillies starter Vance Worley told Metro on Monday. “I remember when he asked me about a particular game that didn’t go well for me. He asked if I remembered what happened during the game and I told him that I did. He said, ‘Well, forget everything about it and move on.’”
It wasn’t just words with Halladay. After the Phillies lost the gut-wrenching Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS against eventual World Series champion Cardinals, virtually all of Halladay’s teammates recounted the loss detail for detail like victim’s pulled from a car crash.
However, Halladay put the painful loss behind him 20 minutes after the Cards celebrated at Citizens Bank Park.
According to former Phillies orthopedic surgeon Ian Duncan, Halladay had one question for the medical staff after suffering the loss.
“Halladay asks with this blank expression, ‘Hey guys, when is the date for opening day next season?’ Duncan said. “That’s all the time it took to put that horrible game behind him.”
Worley laughed at the anecdote.
“That kind of stuff is incredible,” Worley said. “Who else could turn the page like that? Just about anybody else would obsess over a game like that at least for a few hours but not him.”
Halladay refused to celebrate after no-hitting the Reds in Game 1 of the 2010 NLDS.
“It’s only one game,” Halladay said after tossing only the second postseason no-hitter in MLB history. “We still have to win two more.”
A bottle of Dom Perignon was placed at Doc’s locker after he accomplished the remarkable feat. Halladay just glanced at the expensive bubbly and walked into the player’s lounge.
At his peak, Halladay was as methodical and expressionless as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator.
However, Halladay did have a lighter side that he would sometimes display in the clubhouse.
During the 2011 season, he would occasionally fly his beloved toy airplane around the clubhouse. Before one game he navigated up and over Ryan Howard, Raul Ibanez and yours truly as if we were buildings. And then he purposefully crashed the plane into the back of then Phillies media coordinator Kevin Gregg’s head. He and Roy Oswalt cracked up like a pair of prepubescent kids.
“Doc had his fun side at times in the clubhouse but he was all business on the mound,” Worley said. “He’s really one of a kind."