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Roy Halladay’s Passing Touches All of Us

Roy Halladay

When I was a child, I saw the world as a child …

As a kid, it’s easy to be star-struck.

When I was little, baseball was one of my first loves. I used to emulate Ken Griffey Jr‘s batting stance and swing. I tried running up (what we would use as) the outfield wall the way Bo Jackson did in a game against the Orioles. If I happened to pitch, would stare down batters like Nolan Ryan did.

Looking back on it it’s easy to realize how ridiculous I probably looked, but at the time I didn’t care. These were my heroes and I wanted to be them.

It was easy to be in awe of the greatness you were just starting to be aware of.

… I understood as a child …

There was no drug use, run-in’s with the law, PED’s, or protests. Sure they existed, but not in my world. Not the world that existed between the foul lines. My world consisted of my Dad taking my whole family and my friends to Veterans Stadium for the Phanatic’s birthday game. My Grandfather was the one that showed me how to keep a box score the right way. My Uncle Jim taught me how to properly open the salted peanuts we would get so I wouldn’t drop any. I always loved to hear that crunch underneath my feet from the remnants of the shells.

My best friend Mike’s family would always take me to games. It was with the Paulus family when I got to see Steve Jeltz hit two consecutive home runs from each side of the plate against the Pirates. On the trip home, jacked-up on soda and ice cream, Mike and I would fantasy draft the league to see who could come up with the better team.

THIS was the game of baseball I saw when I was very young, through a set of very wide-eyes.

… but when I became I man I put away childish things.

As an adult, you inevitably become more cynical. You’ve seen the dings in the armor. You’re much more aware of the ‘behind the scenes’ issues some may have. It’s almost impossible in the social media age to just sit back and enjoy the purity of … anything. Having grown up, it’s SO HARD to find people (be it athletes, entertainers, or whomever) that you genuinely sit in admiration of.

I think that’s why the Phillies run from Brett Myers closing out the Nationals to advance to the playoffs in 2007 to the World Series in 2008 to Halladay versus Carpenter in the NLDS loss to the Cardinals in 2011 meant as much as it did. For five years, it was as “pure” an experience as you could ask for as a Philadelphia fan.

Although he arrived in the later half of the run, just like when I was little, Roy Halliday was one of those athletes I was awe-struck by.

His legend seemed to start almost immediately after he was traded to the Phillies in December of 2009. There was a long standing rumor that Halladay showed up at Citizens Bank Park and asked for the snow to be cleared from a section of steps. Roy apparently wanted to run the steps in his shorts. He apparently wanted to acclimate himself to the cold weather.

Halladay’s work ethic was unrivaled. People still smile when they talk about the Phillies long reliever/ fifth starter Kyle Kendrick after Halladay’s arrival. KK’s plan was to immediately do ANYTHING Roy Halladay did. He followed his schedule, his workout routine, his eating habits. The people around the team started jokingly referring to him as Roy’s puppy.

I could go on about Halladay’s on the field accomplishments for quite awhile. You’re going to read enough about that in the coming days though. I just want to say that Halladay’s first season with the Phillies was the most dominant season I’ve ever seen from a pitcher.

He was a terrific person off the field. Halladay was nominated several times for the Roberto Clemente Award, given by major league baseball to honor a players involvement in their community. The Halladay Family Foundation has aided children’s charities, hunger relief, and animal rescue both during his playing career and in his retirement.

Roy Halladay was a great father to his children and a loving husband. When he finally decided to retire, he probably didn’t have to. I’m old enough to remember Steve Carlton, but more after he lost his fastball. I remember thinking how empty it seemed as he collected a meaningless World Series ring with the Twins in 1987. Halladay probably could have held on and pitched effectively another season or so. When he was asked what he wanted to do during life after baseball it was ‘I want to coach my son’s little league team. I want to spend more time with my family.’

Even as few as a couple days ago, picture of his son’s baseball game is all over Roy’s twitter.

I had the opportunity to witness true greatness both in person and on TV. To be able to say that, in any medium, doesn’t happen very often.

Halladay’s death is such a terrible loss for so many people across so many different communities.

Right now, the world feels a little smaller.

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