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Phillies to retire Doc's 34 on perfecto anniversary

@ToddZolecki
February 4, 2020

PHILADELPHIA -- Roy Halladay provided some of the greatest moments in Phillies history in a remarkably short period of time. Halladay threw a perfect game. He threw the second no-hitter in postseason history. He won a National League Cy Young Award in 2010. He led one of the greatest rotations

PHILADELPHIA -- Roy Halladay provided some of the greatest moments in Phillies history in a remarkably short period of time.

Halladay threw a perfect game. He threw the second no-hitter in postseason history. He won a National League Cy Young Award in 2010. He led one of the greatest rotations in baseball history in 2011, when the Phillies won a franchise-record 102 games. Halladay made a lasting impression on the Phils and their fans, which is why the organization announced Tuesday morning that it will retire his No. 34 on May 29, the 10th anniversary of his perfect game, in a pregame ceremony at Citizens Bank Park.

Halladay died in a plane crash in the Gulf of Mexico on Nov. 7, 2017. Before he died, he often spoke about his love of Philadelphia. It is why Halladay’s family decided not to put a team logo on Halladay’s cap on the bronze plaque that hangs in the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., despite spending the first 12 years of his 16-year career with the Blue Jays.

“That whole first year [in Philadelphia],” Halladay said in an interview with MLB Productions’ Danny Field in 2014, “I had to pinch myself every day sitting on the bench, looking at the packed stands and looking around the field at the guys I’m playing with going, ‘Is this actually real? This can’t be real. I’ve dreamt about this my whole life, there’s no way this can be real.’ So it was one of the most exciting times of my life.”

Family man Doc had more to offer Phils, MLB

In that same interview, Halladay recalled the story about how he got No. 34 when he joined the Phillies in December 2009.

Halladay wore No. 32 with the Blue Jays, but the Phils retired No. 32 because of Steve Carlton.

“Who’s he?” Halladay said, joking with Phillies director of team travel and clubhouse services Frank Coppenbarger.

“Well, we have 34, we have 36 …” Coppenbarger said.

“Frank, it doesn’t matter,” Halladay replied. “The number doesn’t matter. Thirty-two doesn’t mean anything to me. You can give me 88. It doesn’t matter.”

Coppenbarger gave Halladay No. 34. Some fans might remember that the Phillies wanted to acquire Halladay before the July 2009 Trade Deadline, but negotiations with the Blue Jays fell apart. Before they did, however, Coppenbarger wanted to be prepared. He made up a Halladay jersey with the No. 34 on the back. He buried it in the bottom of a trunk before the Phils opened a series against the Giants in San Francisco.

That’s how sure he was that the Phillies were getting Halladay. Of course, the Phils got Cliff Lee from Cleveland instead. Coppenbarger gave Lee No. 34.

Coincidentally, the Blue Jays and Phillies stayed at the same hotel that week in San Francisco, as Toronto opened a series against the A’s in Oakland. Coppenbarger ran into Halladay in the lobby. He told Doc that he really thought they were going to get him. He had a jersey made for him and everything.

Now, fast forward to December 2009, when the Phillies finally acquired Halladay from the Blue Jays and traded Lee to the Mariners in an ill-advised attempt to restock their farm system. Some fans wondered why Halladay took Lee’s No. 34.

“I had no clue,” Halladay said. “I didn’t know what number he was. And I wasn’t trying to take the air out of Cliff or anything he’d done there.”

Fans soon forgot about it. Lee still wondered. He re-signed with the Phillies in December 2010 and asked Halladay about it the following spring.

“Why did you take my number?” Lee said.

“Well, you took it from me,” Halladay said, referring to the July 2009 Trade Deadline and the trade that never happened. “Mine was made up first and you took it from me.”

Individual game tickets go on sale on Feb. 12 at Phillies.com. All fans in attendance on May 29 will receive a Halladay retired number statue upon arrival. Halladay’s No. 34 will be unveiled above the rooftop in Ashburn Alley, joining other retired numbers: Richie Ashburn (1), Robin Roberts (36), Carlton (32), Mike Schmidt (20), Jim Bunning (14) and Jackie Robinson (42). A six-foot-high No. 34 statue will be unveiled at the third-base plaza, too.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook .