Roy Halladay's death still has an unreal quality to it, even now, almost 15 months later. His remarkable life was one of joy and accomplishment, of confronting failure and ultimately achieving greatness with dignity, resilience and tenacity. He so often seemed indestructible.Those are the things Halladay's family and friends will
Roy Halladay's death still has an unreal quality to it, even now, almost 15 months later. His remarkable life was one of joy and accomplishment, of confronting failure and ultimately achieving greatness with dignity, resilience and tenacity. He so often seemed indestructible.
Those are the things Halladay's family and friends will celebrate this summer when he's inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. Halladay received baseball's highest honor on Tuesday in his first year of eligibility in a moment awash with sadness, pain and sweet memories. He was named on 363 of 425 ballots, garnering 85.4 percent of the vote to smash the required 75-percent threshold.
• Complete 2019 Hall of Fame election results
Halladay died Nov. 7, 2017, when the single-engine light-sport plane he was piloting crashed into the Gulf of Mexico near Tampa, Fla. He was 40 years old. Back and shoulder injuries had ended Halladay's 16-season Major League career -- 12 for the Blue Jays, four for the Phillies -- in '13.
Halladay's journey to greatness was even more remarkable because he had to confront failure early in his career. He defeated it and rode its lessons to greatness. Halladay ended up an eight-time All-Star and a two-time Cy Young Award winner who finished in the top five of voting on five other occasions.
Halladay was also a three-time 20-game winner who amassed 203 victories with a 3.38 ERA. During an 11-season stretch between 2001-11, he was one of baseball's most dominant pitchers.
• Timeline of Halladay's career | Doc's top 10 baseball moments
That era was highlighted by one of the great postseason performances of all-time: Halladay's no-hitter against the Reds in Game 1 of a National League Division Series in 2010. In five postseason starts in '10 and '11, he had a 2.37 ERA and went at least seven innings in four of them.
In those 11 seasons of greatness, Halladay's 65.5 Wins Above Replacement (per Baseball-Reference) led all pitchers by a wide margin. He ranked fourth in innings (2,300), third in ERA (2.96, minimum 1,000 innings) and third in WHIP (1.11, minimum 100 innings) over the stretch. Halladay's 64 complete games during the span were 30 more than any other pitcher and more than 18 teams posted.
But before the success, Halladay faced struggles. When he was 24 years old, having endured a miserable 2000 season (10.64 ERA in 19 appearances), the Blue Jays sent him to Class A Advanced Dunedin in the hope he would reinvent himself.
There, with the assistance of Blue Jays pitching guru Mel Queen and others, Halladay reworked his pitching mechanics, adding movement to his fastball and deception to his delivery. He also began working with the late Harvey Dorfman -- a legendary sports psychologist and author of "The Mental ABC's of Pitching" -- who helped, among others, Hall of Famer John Smoltz.
That was that. Halladay went 41-14 with a 3.10 ERA and 505 1/3 innings over his next two full seasons for the Blue Jays. He was 148-76 during his Toronto years and 40-16 in his first two seasons in Philly.
Halladay was traded to the Phillies after the 2009 season and helped them win the NL East in '10 and '11. On May 29, 2010, he pitched the 20th perfect game in Major League history, needing just 115 pitches while striking out 11 Marlins in South Florida.
"There were guys who threw harder and had better breaking balls," said Buck Martinez, who managed Halladay with the Blue Jays. "But Halladay's strength was that he put his foot on your throat the whole game. Body language is everything, and his says, 'I'm better than you.'"
During a celebration of Halladay's life in Clearwater, Fla., shortly after his death, he was remembered as a great husband, father, teammate and friend.
"He was not a one-dimensional man," Phillies teammate Raul Ibanez said. "Who he was, everything about him was just great and grace. He carried himself with class and confidence and humility."
Former Blue Jays and Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter, one of Halladay's closest friends, said when the two were planning an offseason fishing trip to South America, Halladay reminded him to bring his glove so they could get their throwing in.
That was the trip during which they swam in the Amazon.
"Remember now, we're in the jungle," Carpenter said. "The water is clear as a cup of coffee and we've been catching piranha all day. I told him, 'You're nuts.'"
"Now come on, Carp," Halladay said. "We can say we swam in the Amazon River. Who do we know who can ever say that?"
Carpenter and Halladay faced off in a decisive NLDS Game 5 in 2011. Carpenter and the Cardinals won, 1-0.
"Doc texted me after Game 5," Carpenter said. "I was on the bus. He was in front of his locker. There he was, he'd just pitched his heart out, and he wanted to congratulate me and wish me luck the rest of the way."
Phillies second baseman Chase Utley showed up at 5:45 a.m. on the first day of Spring Training in Halladay's first spring with the club in 2010. Utley wanted to be there first to send a message to his teammates about the tone they should set for the season.
At that early hour, Utley found Halladay had already worked out and was having breakfast hours before the Phillies were scheduled to report.
"I knew then and there this guy was the real deal," Utley said.
Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.