Halladay's Hall induction celebrated with grace

Widow of late pitcher 'sincere and genuine' in expressing gratitude for remarkable career

July 21st, 2019

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- It is something that crossed everybody’s mind over the past several months, but never more so than Sunday.

How would Roy Halladay have felt about Sunday’s induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, which he joined posthumously alongside Mariano Rivera, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Lee Smith and Harold Baines? What would he have said? But after Halladay died in November 2017, when his personal aircraft crashed into the Gulf of Mexico, Halladay’s wife, Brandy, delivered the speech in front of tens of thousands of baseball fans outside Clark Sports Center, a short walk from where Halladay’s plaque will hang inside the Hall of Fame and Museum.

“This is not my speech to give,” Brandy Halladay told the crowd. “I’m going to do the best I can to say the things I believe Roy might have said or would have wanted to say if he was here today. The thank yous could and should go on for days when you consider the impact so many people had on Roy’s career.”

It was an emotional speech, one that Brandy said she had been planning for months, trying to remember the thoughts that entered her mind in the shower, the car or wherever she happened to be.

“Putting it into words was tougher, because I think about it all the time,” she said afterward. “Be sincere and be genuine and represent him in a way that I think he would have appreciated.”

A tribute video played before Brandy stepped to the podium. Halladay’s best friend, former Blue Jays teammate Chris Carpenter, told some of his favorite stories, both on and off the field. Halladay’s best career highlights played. Brandy wiped away tears.

She then stood, posed with her husband’s plaque and stepped to the podium.

“I knew I was going to cry at some point,” she said.

She quickly recovered. Brandy said in her speech and afterward that she felt the support of the Hall of Fame players behind her.

“The amount of support we have received in the last six months and the friends we have made, it’s absolutely amazing,” she said. “Thank you to Harold, Lee, Mariano, Mike and Edgar for sharing the stage with me. A special thanks to all these men behind me who I can’t look at because I’ll cry again. All of your families, too, have extended so much love and friendship to myself and to my children. I’m so grateful.

“Anybody who thinks baseball truly isn’t a family has never been involved in baseball. I know how honored Roy would be to be sitting here today with such accomplished men who have represented this game so well over the course of all your careers.”

Halladay’s baseball story is an incredible one. A first-round Draft pick in 1995, he came within one out of throwing a no-hitter in his second big league start in 1998. He pitched terribly in 2000, posting a 10.64 ERA in 67 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays, which remains the record for the highest single-season ERA in baseball history (minimum 50 innings). Toronto sent Halladay all the way to Class A Advanced Dunedin to open the ’01 season to work on his mechanics and confidence.

Things like that do not happen to future Hall of Fame pitchers. Things like that happen to journeymen. Things like that happen to first-round busts. But Halladay changed his mechanics, rewired his brain and developed a peerless work ethic to become one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history. He won two Cy Young Awards, threw the 20th perfect game in baseball history and, in his first career appearance in the playoffs, threw the second no-hitter in postseason history.

Halladay went 203-105 in his 16-year career, spending his first 12 seasons with the Blue Jays, regularly grinding through some of the best lineups in baseball in the American League East, and his final four with the Phillies, where he finally got to pitch in the postseason. Halladay threw 67 complete games in his career. No team has thrown more than 37 since Halladay retired in 2013.

They don’t make many like Halladay anymore. Brandy thanked the scouts, coaches, general managers, mentors, teammates, family, friends and fans for helping her husband along the way.

“Roy’s natural talent obviously was a huge part of this, but without all the unconditional continued support from every one of you, he never could have dedicated himself to being the best ballplayer he could be,” she said. “I say it a lot, but it takes a village, and we truly have a great one.”

Halladay had his struggles. He wondered if he would ever be good enough to pitch in the big leagues following the 2000 season and his ’01 demotion to A ball. He tried hard to please people. He did not want to fail. But then he found and developed a close relationship with the late sports psychologist Harvey Dorfman. Together, they worked to make Halladay a great baseball player and a better person.

“He was a great coach, a nervous husband and father only because he so desperately wanted to be as great and successful at home as he was in baseball,” Brandy said. “I think that Roy would want everyone to know that people aren’t perfect. We are all imperfect or flawed in one way or another. We all struggle, but with hard work, humility and dedication, imperfect people can still have perfect moments. Roy was blessed in his life and in his career to have some perfect moments, but I believe they were only possible because of the man he strived to be, the teammate that he was and the people he was blessed to be on the field with. I’m so humbled to say congratulations to this year’s Hall of Fame inductees and to say thank you to all of you on Roy’s behalf.”