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  • Bill Chastain

Halladay One of the Best

Roy Halladay’s death brought a lot of reflection and stories about an athlete and a father who died too young.  The former ace right-hander easily ranks as one of the top ten pitchers–maybe top five, I’ve watched since I began covering the sport. He was a lot like Bob Gibson, of whom it was said: The other team never seems to be hitting on the nights he pitches.

Opposing teams didn’t like facing Halladay either.

The “Halladay flu” could suddenly strike any time he took the mound, keeping opposing players on the bench to nurse any number of mysterious ailments.

Because Major League Baseball uses a weighted schedule, and teams play their division foes the most, I saw Halladay pitch a lot.  The Rays and Blue Jays are in the American League East, and Halladay spent the bulk of his career pitching for the Blue Jays. My favorite of his outings came on July 24, 2009 when he received a nine-inning no-decision at Toronto’s Rogers Centre. The Rays went on to win the game 4-2 in 10 innings. Flash forward to the following morning.

My legs still allowed me to run back then, so I got up early and did so. The sun had begun to rise by the time I finished, stopping at a spot down the hill from the Renaissance, the hotel where I stayed that’s attached to Rogers Centre.  Suddenly, a tall figure stormed down the hill toward me, then he blew past. The guy wasn’t messing around, either.  I recognized Halladay right away.  The guy had thrown 115 pitches hours earlier and he was out running before the rooster crowed.  Pretty impressive.

I never knew Halladay. I don’t think I even interviewed him. But several of my friends in baseball were good friends with him. From stories they’ve relayed, I know he was a special guy on, and off the field. He’ll be missed.