Phillies

David Montgomery and John Middleton share memories of Roy Halladay

David Montgomery and John Middleton share memories of Roy Halladay

A great dad, teammate and pitcher was lost Tuesday.

The baseball community is mourning the loss of 16-year veteran Roy Halladay, who died in a plane crash Tuesday in the Gulf of Mexico at the age of 40 (see story).

Across Major League Baseball, players shared their feelings about the former Blue Jays and Phillies star (see story).

Phillies managing partner John Middleton and chairman David Montgomery also talked about their memories of Halladay during his four years in Philadelphia, painting a picture of a selfless, diligent man.

Montgomery on the widespread impact of Halladay's death
“This is his family’s loss first but it is the Phillies' and baseball’s loss as well. All-Star pitcher, All-Star person and All-Star father and family man we lost today.”

Halladay was the father to two children, Ryan and Braden, with his wife, Brandy (see story). He enjoyed bringing his kids to the ballpark in the later stages of his tenure with the Phillies (see story)

Montgomery on Halladay the teammate
"It didn’t take long to prove his worth [in 2010], obviously. I have been hanging around here a long time, those two years of pitching (2010-11) were almost beyond description. It reminds me of one other thing when you mention team. Following that perfect game, he agonized over how to include his teammates in the perfect game. The reality is, it was Roy’s statement that it wasn’t about me and it was about us and what we accomplish and not what one accomplishes.”

Halladay often praised his catcher, Carlos Ruiz, for calling great games, especially following Halladay's perfect game against the Marlins on May 29, 2010, and his no-hitter in Game 1 of the NLDS on Oct. 6, 2010 against the Reds.

Middleton on Halladay the teammate
"What people remember about Roy is what a great human being he was. Great husband, great father, great friend, and ultimately a great teammate. But he was a great teammate because he was a great person."

Halladay dedicated himself to charity work off the field, including hunger relief and animal rescue organizations. In September, he traveled to Alabama to save two puppies whose ears were cut off.

Many of Halladay's former teammates remembered "Doc" on social media following the news of his death (see story)

Montgomery on Halladay's humility and work ethic
“I’ll never forget Kyle Kendrick saying to me if I knew how early Roy got here. As a result of that, he set the bar not by saying this is what you have to do but this is what you should do. In many ways, maybe his humility came from the fact that he went down to the minors after early success. Oftentimes, we say in this game that you learn how to succeed by failing and coming back from that. Maybe that is why he spent so much time with Harvey Dorfman thinking about the mental aspects of the game. Physical talent is one thing, but believing in yourself and having confidence takes you to the next level.”

Dorfman, the late sports psychologist, was an invaluable resource for Halladay, who credited Dorfman's counseling with resurrecting his career.

Middleton's message to Phillies fans
“I think you should remember that Roy was, first and foremost, a great human being, and he dedicated his life to doing the best he could for his family and his friends and his profession. And just be grateful for every moment you have, because you never know when it’s going to be taken away from you.”

Yankees' GM calls Phillies' Rob Thompson one of the best in business

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Yankees' GM calls Phillies' Rob Thompson one of the best in business

CLEARWATER, Fla. – According to New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, “the Phillies got one of the best,” when they hired Rob Thomson as bench coach.

“It was tough to see him leave,” Cashman said. “He is a great coach, an exceptional baseball man. His knowledge of the game is off the charts.

“Gabe Kapler has someone at his side that he can trust to have everything lined up properly all the time and that will free up Gabe Kapler to focus on whatever he wants to focus on at the given time. Rob Thomson will keep the rudder steady every step of the way,” (see story).

Thomson, 54, spent 28 years in the Yankees organization, most recently as Joe Girardi’s bench coach. He was one of five people (along with Eric Wedge, Hensley Muelens and Carlos Beltran) to interview to become Girardi’s successor during the offseason. Aaron Boone got the job.

Timing worked in the Phillies’ favor in hiring Thomson. There was a lag between when Thomson found out he would not be the Yankees’ manager and Boone’s hiring. The Phillies offered him their bench coach job and he took it.

“He would have been a candidate to return here, without question,” Cashman said. “It would have been the final call of Aaron Boone, but I would have recommended him highly to Aaron Boone. I gave (Phillies GM) Matt Klentak the highest recommendation.”

Thomson described himself as a good self-evaluator. He’s not sure he’d be cut out to manage every team, but he believed he’d have been a good fit for the Yankees job. He knew that organization, its operation and its players well.

“I understand that it’s part of the business,” Thomson said. “Brian and his staff, who are very smart people, had a certain person in mind and it wasn’t me. So you have to move on and refocus.”

Kapler did extensive research on Thomson and said he often heard that Thomson was “the best in the business at planning and running a spring training camp.”

Cashman concurred.

“Gabe Kapler has as good a right-hand man as you can find,” he said.

One plugged-in baseball observer described Thomson as similar to the late John Vukovich – a loyal-to-his-manager baseball taskmaster – only with a little less volume in his voice.

“He’s tough,” Cashman said. “He will be brutally honest. He’ll say what a player needs to hear, not necessarily what a player wants to hear. And he’ll always relate well to players because he always has their best interest at heart.

“The Phillies got one of the best.”

New bench coach Rob Thomson is Yankees’ loss, Phillies' gain

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New bench coach Rob Thomson is Yankees’ loss, Phillies' gain

CLEARWATER, Fla. – It will probably hit Rob Thomson sometime on Sunday. That’s when the New York Yankees visit Spectrum Field, the Phillies’ spring-training home.

Thomson spent 28 seasons in the Yankees’ famous pinstripes, serving in player-development, front-office and coaching roles.

Most recently, he was the bench coach for former Yankees manager Joe Girardi. Thomson was one of five people interviewed to replace Girardi after last season. Aaron Boone got the job, but Thomson wasn’t a free agent for long. The Phillies quickly scooped up the 54-year-old baseball lifer and installed him as new manager Gabe Kapler’s top lieutenant.

On Sunday, Thomson will look across the diamond and see his past.

But all he’s thinking about is the future.

“I feel like I’m part of the Phillies family already,” he said. “The people have been great. They’ve welcomed me right in.

“I’m here to support Gabe in any way I can. I’ve got his back all the time.”

Phillies management wanted a veteran coaching presence around the 42-year-old Kapler, whose only managing experience came a decade ago in the low minors. New pitching coach Rick Kranitz held that position with three other clubs over 10 seasons. New hitting coach John Mallee previously held that position with the Astros and Cubs.

Thomson worked on Joe Torre’s staff before working under Girardi. He lived through the Yankees’ growth as one of baseball’s analytic giants. He's just what the Phillies and Kapler were looking for.

“I ask everybody everything all the time,” Kapler said. “I contacted no fewer than 20 people about Rob and heard nothing even remotely negative. I weigh that more than a six-hour interview. You might nail the interview, but you can’t fake your career.”

Kapler’s most valuable appraisal came from Girardi, who said Thomson was an incredible teammate.

“In my opinion, that’s the best compliment anyone in baseball can give,” Kapler said.

Thomson is a former catcher. He played on the 1984 Canadian Olympic team and in the Tigers' farm system before joining the Yankees’ player development department.

While working on Torre’s staff, Thomson learned the value of trust.

“Joe Torre was really into relationships and gaining trust with a player and that taught me a lot,” Thomson said. “Before you can really help players, they have to be able to trust you.

“With Joe Girardi, he was a little more analytics-driven so that taught me a lot. We’d always looked at numbers but it taught me to really dive into some of the more critical numbers that are around today.

“In a lot of ways, Gabe reminds me of Joe (Girardi) because of his presence and openness to ideas. Those are great qualities for a leader to have.”

Thomson arrives at work pre-dawn in spring training to plan the day. He is known to arrive at noon for a regular season night game. With data study, scouting reports, video, one-on-one coaching and meetings, the preparation for a single game rivals what happens in the NFL – only it happens every day. When game time arrives, Thomson will be at Kapler’s side, making suggestions and offering ideas (see story). He said he takes nothing personal, so Kapler can wave him off any time.

“But I won’t," Kapler said with a laugh. “I need that.”