Cole Hamels

Roy Halladay taught Cole Hamels more than just the game

Roy Halladay taught Cole Hamels more than just the game

Cole Hamels looked up to Roy Halladay.

The 6-foot-6 frame, the unrivaled work ethic, the mastery of his craft.

Hamels saw it all.

But he also appreciated something else in Halladay.

Fatherhood.

As he marveled at the qualities of his old teammate and friend just hours after learning Halladay had died in a plane crash (see story), Hamels' voice grew shaky when family came to mind.

Halladay was a loving father of two sons, Ryan and Braden (see story).

And that's what Hamels admired, what he learned and what he aspires to be, just as much as emulating the machine on the mound. When remembering Halladay on the tragic Tuesday, Hamels thought of his own sons, Braxton and Caleb.

"Now, I have two boys of my own," Hamels said. "And I got to see what that meant to him every time he was able to bring them (Ryan and Braden) around the ballpark. That was something that really did leave an impression. Hopefully I'll be able to do what he was able to do for his boys."

Halladay, already established and revered as one of the game's best pitchers, came to the Phillies in 2010. Hamels was recovering from a disastrous season in which he went from 2008 World Series MVP to career lows and mental exhaustion in 2009.

Hamels, only 26 at the time, found a mentor in the 33-year-old "Doc."

Through example and experience, Halladay molded the skinny lefty from California.

He exemplified the importance of approach and preparation. Hamels even recalls watching Halladay's tendencies when the big righty was with the Toronto Blue Jays in spring training, before he ever joined the Phillies in that transformational 2010.

"In order to be great at something, you have to have mentors. You have to have great mentors, and he was one for me," Hamels said. "I watched from afar with being here and him being in Dunedin for the Blue Jays, we got to see him pitch. Seeing him pitch in spring training and then watching him during the season, he was the greatest of that decade. He was the greatest pitcher. You wanted to watch him, see how he attacked hitters, what was he doing different that everybody else wasn't, why was he so great?

"And then to finally play catch with him and see that he had a purpose. Behind everything that he did, he had a purpose. And I think you come to realize that you have very small, short moments in life to be able to do something great, so you have to maximize it, you have to make the best of it — and he did."

At times, Hamels felt like a kid watching in awe from the stands.

"A lot of us grew up watching Roy Halladay play. I was fortunate to be able to sit in the dugout and share a locker with him for some of the best years I've had," Hamels said. "He's really given me such a way to perceive and to look at baseball and to try to improve and be the best at what I do. He was a man of few words, but you just sat back and you just watched him, you watched what he did, his work ethic was second to none. I mean, you couldn't beat him to the ballpark, and if you did, you were going to lose from there on out. 

"You didn't miss those moments when he pitched. Baseball can be a long, grueling season, but when you had Roy Halladay on the mound, you didn't miss an inning, you didn't miss a pitch, you were watching every moment. And I know those are kind of the moments when you're playing this game and you look up in the stands, and there are people there to watch you and watch you perform — I was one of those people. I obviously had a closer seat and got to kind of talk to him a bit in between innings, but I was there to watch him perform. He raised my bar, he raised the game for me."

He was also influential in developing Hamels' new, difference-making two-seam fastball.

"There was always times when I would be throwing it and it wouldn't be working very well, and I'd ask him and he would just tell me where to put the fingers, the placement and then obviously where to envision where to release it," Hamels said. "He really did help me out with introducing that pitch."

Hamels and Halladay remained close once the latter retired in December 2013. Hamels said their families had vacationed together and he would frequently text with Halladay throughout the busy baseball season. And Hamels knew well of his buddy's passion for flying planes.

"Knowing that his father was a pilot, I think that was right there," Hamels said. "You look up to your dad always."

Hamels looked up to Halladay.

Not just the pitcher, but the father, too.

"We play this game and we love every minute of it, and then, it is over," Hamels said. "And then you get to go to your family and spend time with your family. To see that it's cut short for somebody that was such a good, good person, to him and his wife Brandy, it's hard to think about what's really going to transpire. He means a lot to all of us and we're really, really going to miss him."

Remembering what mattered most to Roy Halladay

Remembering what mattered most to Roy Halladay

I was there for the perfect game. I was there for the postseason no-hitter. I was there on that night when the Phillies clinched the division title in 2010 — his Cy Young season in Philadelphia — and he finally got to experience the euphoria of a champagne celebration. I was there when he pitched so valiantly and left a piece of his soul on the mound at Citizens Bank Park the night the 102-win season came to a crushing conclusion in a 1-0 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. I was there the night he walked off the mound in Miami for the last time in September 2013, his wounded right shoulder turned to spaghetti after pitching 15 seasons in the majors and reaching 220 innings eight times.

I saw all of Roy Halladay's highs and lows during his four seasons as a Phillie.

And, yet, my favorite memory of the man who left this world way too soon on Tuesday did not even happen in a game.

It happened in July 2011 during a memorable series at Wrigley Field. Halladay pitched the series opener on a Monday night and was forced to leave the game after the fourth inning because of dehydration. It was a scary scene. Wrigley Field was a pizza oven that night and Roy couldn't fight off the heat. At one point, it looked like he would pass out. He needed intravenous after the game. The next day, to the surprise of many, he pronounced himself fine and said he would be ready to make his next start. To prove it, he was the first one on the field Wednesday morning, ready to throw his between-starts bullpen sessions.

Halladay approached those between-starts bullpen sessions the way a surgeon approaches his work in the operating room. The expression "all business" does not even do it justice. No one got in his way. Nothing pierced his concentration. He would finish those sessions and walk straight to the training room for stretching and ice. It was all part of his almost robotic routine and anyone who got in his way would feel the sting of his icy glare.

But there were exceptions.

Roy Halladay had a huge competitor's heart. He also had a good heart and a soft spot for kids.

As Halladay went through his bullpen routine that Wednesday morning in Chicago, a tour group made its way through the stands. As the tour leader talked about the old ballpark, the group of fans couldn't help but rubberneck Halladay's work in the bullpen. Halladay finished the bullpen session, threw a towel over his shoulder and, still in the zone, started walking purposefully back to the dugout with pitching coach Rich Dubee. As Halladay got to the top step of the dugout and was about to disappear up the tunnel to the clubhouse, a young boy broke away from the tour group and shouted, "Roy!" Halladay stopped, looked around and saw the boy running his way. The pitcher waited for the boy to arrive at the dugout. He wiped sweat from his forearms and signed the kid's baseball. The boy looked for a moment at the prized autograph, then ran through the stands at empty Wrigley Field and rejoined the group. The kid got a lot more than a tour of the Friendly Confines that day.

That one moment with a kid in an empty ballpark in Chicago spoke volumes about Roy Halladay. He was always willing to make a kid's day. He was always willing to share a piece of himself with a young person who wanted to touch his greatness or learn from it. We saw it time and time again in Philadelphia. He took Kyle Kendrick under his wing. He bonded with Carlos Ruiz. He guided Cole Hamels.

"In order to be great at something, you have to have mentors, and he was one for me," the heartbroken Hamels said Tuesday night, just a few hours after learning of his friend's death in a plane crash at the way-too-young age of 40. "He made you push to a level that you didn't think you could reach. He raised my bar."

Guys like Kendrick, Ruiz and Hamels revered Halladay. He gave them so much and they wanted to give back to him. After the Phillies won the division in 2011, Ruiz said, "Gotta get Doc a ring." It didn't work out, of course. But not having a World Series ring did not diminish Halladay's career at all and he knew that. Yes, he pushed for a trade from Toronto to Philadelphia because he saw it as a way to put a World Series ring on his finger. But if you listened closely to Doc during his four seasons here, you know that he prioritized "enjoying the journey" more than anything — and he had quite a journey.

Most recently, his journey had taken him to the skies and to a tragic and unfathomable end, but his baseball journey had continued. He spent the spring and summer working part-time in the Phillies’ organization, mentoring young minor-league pitchers on the science of gaining a mental edge. He was also the proud pitching coach at Calvary Christian High School, just down the road from the Phillies’ ballpark in Clearwater, and he was coaching another youth team, as well. Back in March, he beamed as he talked about coaching those two teams. His sons, Braden and Ryan, were players on those teams and Roy was loving the time he got to spend with them around the game he loved so much.

Fathers ... sons ... baseball.

Gulp.

Man, there are so many reasons why this is difficult. So, so many. Roy Halladay's affinity and commitment to helping youngsters, from Little Leaguers to professionals, is a big one. The guy was always generous with his time and expertise and that will be missed.

So what is Roy Halladay's legacy? Cooperstown? Oh, yeah. That will happen. But his real legacy is still out there, and in some cases it's still developing. The guy touched a lot of young lives through baseball and surely some of those young lives will do great things with the lessons he imparted. I was there for the no-hitters and the other memorable moments of Roy Halladay's time in Philadelphia. But I'll remember most how much the kids always mattered to him.

Cole Hamels' ridiculous mega-mansion is up for sale

Cole Hamels' ridiculous mega-mansion is up for sale

Have $10 million and need 19 bathrooms? Then Cole Hamels’ Branson, Missouri mansion can be yours.

According to Realtor.com, Hamels and his wife Heidi are selling one of the most over-the-top homes you’ve ever seen. The listing price is for a cool $9.75 million and the inside is completely unfinished, so you’re going to need a few more bucks to finish the job.

Hamels began building the 32,000 square-foot home in 2012 while he was still with the Phillies, but the couple has decided to relocate to the Dallas area rather than Missouri, where his wife is from.

Sitting on 104.7 acres of land with more than 1,700 feet of shoreline, this one-of-a-kind residence boasts some ridiculous features. In addition to the 10 bedrooms, the home has 13 full bathrooms and six half bathrooms. There are four separate living areas and includes a second kitchen, exercise room, wine cellar, elevator and a massive three-car barn/garage. There would have been plenty of room for Cole to display his World Series ring, and MVP trophies from the NLCS and World Series.

Hamels has one year left on the 6-year, $144 million contract he signed with the Phillies with a club and team option for 2019. After the 2019 season, Hamels will be 35 and a free agent. Perhaps he’ll need a new place to live.