When I heard about the deaths of sports icons like Tony Gwynn or Darren Daulton, I was sad. Whenever any person dies, the natural reaction is to feel a sense of grief. More recently, I felt this when Jose Fernandez passed away; I, obviously, remembered watching him play, and it was unfortunate seeing him go in the way that he did.
Still, nothing has compared to what I feel right now upon hearing the news about Roy Halladay’s tragic passing.
I have never met Halladay, and now I never will. The feeling is not quite the same as losing someone you know, but an emptiness has overcome me in a way similar. I felt like I knew Roy Halladay, and his connection to me and my family will forever remain a part of who I am as both a baseball fan and as a person.
The story really begins at the 2009 MLB Trade Deadline. The Phillies, my favorite team, had acquired ace Cliff Lee to help make a push to win back-to-back World Series championships. I spent perhaps an hour on the phone that day with my grandfather, Pop-pop, who lived in Philadelphia, and while he was happy, he was slightly disappointed that the team couldn’t acquire a better ace--Halladay--to make that run, especially after the team had shown interest.
Later that year, the Phillies made the deal anyway, and brought Halladay on as their third ace alongside Lee and Cole Hamels. Pop-pop and I were ecstatic; with these three pitchers, the Phillies were automatic World Series favorites again in 2010. Immediately, I asked for Halladay’s jersey during the holiday season. I remember vividly going in for winter baseball workouts, where the coaches were shocked to find out that I had already purchased Halladay’s jersey. That’s how excited we were.
In 2010, Halladay came to Philadelphia and was exactly as advertised.
He was the ace of the staff, giving the Phillies what seemed like an automatic win every fifth day. I think I wore his jersey just as often.
On May 29, I was wearing Halladay’s jersey once again (he was pitching that day), and my family walked into a furniture store at a nearby shopping area. A man working there commented on my jersey, saying something along the lines of, “Are you a Phillies fan? I love Roy Halladay. Nice jersey.” I smiled, said I was, and we went about our day.
That night, I turned the TV on to watch Halladay’s start against the then-Florida Marlins. His stuff was electric, and after my dad and I both noticed that he was throwing a no-hitter, he told me that I could go to bed once Halladay gave up his first hit.
If you are at all familiar with 2010 baseball, you might recall that Halladay never did.
I watched his perfect game from start to finish in our family room, and to this day, I can still recite Tom McCarthy’s last out call by memory.
Hit toward third, Castro has it. Spins, fires, a perfect game. Roy Halladay has thrown the second perfect game in Philadelphia Phillies history. He faces 27 batters, he retires alllll 27. It’s the 20th perfect game in baseball history and the second one this year.
That was from memory.
Halladay quickly became my idol. When I pitched for my Little League team, I tried to replicate his windup. I read articles about him, did my research, bought his figurine; I became a Roy Halladay expert. He could do no wrong on the mound, and I loved him for it.
Later that year, I was playing in my Little League’s fall season. It was early October, a bit chilly, but not too bad. Unfortunately, during my game was Game 1 of the 2010 NLDS between the Phillies and Reds: the night of Roy Halladay’s first career postseason start. I DVR’d the game to watch later, but I remember my mom coming over to the dugout that night to tell me that Halladay had thrown a no-hitter, just the second in postseason history.
I watched the entire game the next day, and, to this day, we still have it saved to our DVR.
Halladay was still pitching for the Phillies when my grandfather passed away, but it is almost symbolic to me that he began his decline when Pop-pop began his. Halladay was a hero to me, and today, I am wearing his jersey--a youth large that does not fit--in order to remember his legacy not just as Phillie, but also to me and my family.
May peace be upon Roy Halladay. I’ll miss you.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn. Here is the link to the original piece.