Roy Halladay

Revisiting the night of Roy Halladay's perfect game in Miami

Revisiting the night of Roy Halladay's perfect game in Miami

Roy Halladay arrived in Philadelphia to great excitement and fanfare before the 2010 season and rattled off wins in six of his first seven starts. On May 23, in his 10th start with the Phillies, Halladay was roughed up by the Boston Red Sox. He vowed to be better in his next start and backed up his words dramatically by pitching an unforgettable perfect game May 29 in Miami.

Across the state of Florida near Tampa, Brandy Halladay watched her husband's masterpiece on television.

"I was at home," she said. "I wanted to go down, but it was close to home and Roy said, 'Don't worry about it, I'll just come home on the off day.' I was watching it on TV. It was terrifying. People were trying to talk to me. I just sat there and tried to shush people, 'Don't talk, give me a minute.' It was very exciting, so surreal. It was one of those moments that was so big. That was probably one of my more exciting moments, even though I wasn't there for it, because it was like a first big, a first big one."

The Halladay family experienced another big one last week when Roy was posthumously elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. He will be enshrined in Cooperstown on July 21. In honor of his election, NBC Sports Philadelphia is re-airing his 2010 perfect game at 8 p.m. Sunday night and reposting our game story from that special night.

MIAMI — For much of the week, the Phillies' postgame clubhouse was a funeral parlor. A loss with the ace on the mound, followed by three straight shutouts, will do that. 

That's just one of the things that made Saturday night so special for the Phillies. A week of lows ended with one of the greatest highs (short of a championship) that a team can experience — a perfect game delivered from the fingertips of Roy Halladay. 

"I'm speechless, bro," the always loquacious Shane Victorino said moments after Halladay put the finishing touches on his perfecto in a 1-0 win over the Florida Marlins at Sun Life Stadium. 

"That was amazing," Victorino added. "It's hard to believe. I could never have imagined being part of something like this." 

Six days removed from his worst start as a Phillie, Halladay mowed through the Marlins' lineup with 11 strikeouts. The 33-year-old right-hander was backed by several nice defensive plays, especially from shortstop Wilson Valdez and third baseman Juan Castro, in pitching the 20th perfect game in major-league history and second in Phillies history. Hall of Famer Jim Bunning had the only other one on June 21, 1964. 

As Halladay closed in on the perfect game in the ninth inning, the crowd of 25,086, which included a healthy number of red-clad Phillies fans, stood and cheered every pitch. When Victorino hauled in Mike Lamb's drive to deep center for the first out, the crowd could sense it. 

"The fans were awesome," Halladay said. "To be on the road and see them that into it was really special. It made it all the more memorable." 

Pinch-hitter Ronny Paulino made the final out on a ground ball to Castro. When Castro's throw landed in first baseman Ryan Howard's glove, Halladay raised his arms in triumph, was greeted by catcher Carlos Ruiz, then mobbed by teammates. 

Halladay's first emotion on getting the 27th out? 

"It was more a sense of relief in that first second," he said. "The excitement of knowing you're that close, then to have it happen ..." 

Halladay had traveled a similar road before only to fall short of a great achievement. On Sept. 27, 1998, in his second big-league start, he came within one out of a no-hitter while pitching for Toronto. Detroit's Bobby Higginson, the former Frankford High and Temple University star, broke up the no-hit bid with a two-out homer in the ninth, and Halladay had to settle for a 2-1 win and a walk-free, eight-strikeout one-hitter. 

Halladay never planned on making a run at perfection.

"It's not something you ever think about," he said, his face still red 30 minutes after the final out. "It's hard to explain. There are days when things just click. It's not something you try to do." 

Halladay smiled. "It's a great feeling," he said. "A lot better than the eight and two-thirds." 

The feeling in the postgame clubhouse was a lot better than it had been for much of the week. Oh, the Phils still had trouble scoring runs — their only run in support of Halladay was unearned — but no one seemed to mind because of what had just taken place on the mound. 

In one corner, Castro — who filled in for an injured Placido Polanco — talked about what a thrill it was to be part of Halladay's perfect game. 

In another, bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer talked about how he had to urinate for the final five innings but was afraid to leave the bullpen for fear of missing something or jinxing Halladay. 

"No one in the bullpen said a peep about the perfect game," Billmeyer said. "They all knew what was happening, but they didn't say a word. When it was over, you should have seen them come out of those chairs." 

Amid the excitement in the clubhouse, the team's equipment staff, Frank Coppenbarger and Kevin Steinhour, collected a game ball, a copy of the lineup card and Halladay's cap and shirt. Those mementos will surely be on display somewhere, maybe Cooperstown. 

The only person missing from the clubhouse party was Halladay himself. Even after the best game of his career, he adhered, slavishly, to his rigorous postgame workout routine. 

"He ain't changing that for a perfect game," pitching coach Rich Dubee said. 

Once Halladay was done sweating, he was led to a postgame interview room by media relations official Kevin Gregg. On the way to the interview room, Halladay was stopped by a man he did not know. Halladay looked puzzled as he listened to the man. Within a few seconds, a smile crossed Halladay's face. 

"Thank you very much," the pitcher told Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, who had stopped to tell Halladay that he had ordered the pitching rubber to be dug up and delivered to Halladay as a souvenir. Sure enough, the Marlins' grounds crew dug up the rubber before the lights went out in the stadium. 

After his postgame news conference, Halladay made his way back to the clubhouse and was brought into a private room where there was a phone call waiting from Vice President Joe Biden, a Phillies fan. 

Halladay's perfect game was just another example that you never know what to expect in baseball. He was roughed up for seven runs in his previous start, Sunday against Boston, and removed from the game in the sixth inning. After coming out of that game, an angry Halladay told manager Charlie Manuel, "I'm better than that." After watching Halladay subdue the Marlins on 115 pitches Saturday night, Manuel said: "I don't think I could have gotten the ball away from him." 

After struggling against Boston, Halladay took some recommendations from Dubee and teammate Jamie Moyer and made some mechanical adjustments to his delivery. Basically, Halladay said, his body was drifting from side to side in his delivery instead of coming straight at the hitter. He made the adjustment in his between-starts bullpen session and knew it was the right thing when he came out with four strikeouts against the first five hitters Saturday night. 

Halladay had tremendous life on his pitches. His sinker was explosive. His curveball was sharp. He hit spots and never panicked in a close game — even when he reached seven three-ball counts. 

Halladay shared the joy of his perfect game with all his teammates. He praised his catcher, Ruiz, in particular. 

"I can't say enough about the game he called," Halladay said. "After four or five innings, I just let him take over and I went with him. It was a no-brainer for me. See the glove, hit the glove. They have good hitters over there. You can't fall into a pattern against them. The way Carlos called the game made a big difference." 

After the game, a reporter asked Marlins outfielder Cody Ross if it was embarrassing to be the victim of a perfect game. 

Ross said it was not. "Look who's pitching," he said. "Roy Halladay. He's the best pitcher in baseball." 

Indeed he was on this night.

Through the tears, the Halladay family finds joy in Cooperstown honor

Through the tears, the Halladay family finds joy in Cooperstown honor

NEW YORK — It was a beautiful family portrait, a mom with a shining smile flanked by her two handsome teenage sons.

There was a fourth person in this snapshot and though you couldn’t see him, you could feel his powerful presence in the words of the people who loved him most.

“I never saw him as Roy Halladay,” 14-year-old Ryan said. “I just saw him as Dad.”

Of all the touching tributes that poured out about Roy Halladay the day after his first-ballot election to the Hall of Fame, that was the sweetest. Ryan, his 18-year-old brother Braden, and their mom, Brandy, had made the trip from Tampa to New York (on Phillies owner John Middleton’s private plane) early Wednesday morning and now, here they were, in a 20th floor ballroom at a posh Manhattan hotel for the official day-after-election Hall of Fame news conference.

Mariano Rivera, Mike Mussina and Edgar Martinez, all elected with Halladay, sat on a dais in front of the room, their elation justified and impossible to hide. The Halladay family, at their choosing, sat quietly among the seated guests. They are still hurting, and always will, after losing their husband and dad at the age of 40 in a plane crash 15 months ago. But, make no mistake, they felt the same elation and pride as the other men on their first day as Hall of Famers.

“To be able to be here and see the appreciation and love that everyone has for Roy and his efforts and hard work, that means the world to us,” Brandy said off to the side of the dais.

She glanced proudly at her two sons. As little boys, they followed their dad around the Phillies clubhouse. On the night Roy pitched his playoff no-hitter at Citizens Bank Park in October 2010, Ryan played in the kids’ room downstairs while Braden sat in the seats with his mom and squirmed nervously while dad put the finishing touches on a masterpiece.

“It’s crazy just to know a person who is a Hall of Famer,” said Braden, blond and lanky, looking so much like his dad. “That’s big in itself. But to have that person as your dad — that’s something that is crazy that I still can’t comprehend.”

Little known fact: The Phillies strongly considered selecting Halladay, a Denver-area high school prospect, in the first round of the 1995 draft. Team officials, however, had concerns about the young pitcher’s delivery, worried that he might not hold up physically, and instead selected outfielder Reggie Taylor with the 14th pick. Other teams had the same concerns. Halladay was picked 17th overall by the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Phillies were right to have concerns about young Halladay’s delivery. Oh, he made it to the big leagues quickly and flirted with a no-hitter in his second start. But by the end of his second season in the majors, he was “getting his ass kicked” in the words of then Jays manager Buck Martinez. In the spring of 2001, the Jays sent Halladay, then 23, all the way back to the low minors to see if they could save his career with a complete overhaul of his delivery. 

“He hated me for it,” Martinez recalled recently.

Brandy was with her husband for every difficult step.

“That was a really tough year … or two … or three,” she said Wednesday.

The couple considered giving up the dream and walking away from baseball. Roy thought about going to college.

“We thought we were done,” Brandy said. “The truth is, they didn’t send us back thinking we were going to make it. They sent us back to figure out what they were going to do with us and who they could trade to get for us. Roy fought really, really hard to get back.”

With the help of pitching coach Mel Queen, Halladay went through a complete mechanical remake that season in the minors. He lowered his arm angle to increase movement on his pitches, added a shoulder tuck to increase deception and gained body momentum by straightening his direction from the rubber to home plate. He made it back to the majors — triumphantly — and won 19 games in 2002. He won 22 the next season and earned the American League Cy Young Award in 2003.

Halladay would not have made it back to the majors without the support of his wife, a fiery extrovert who is not one to sit on the sidelines. After her husband was sent to the minors, she went to a Barnes & Noble bookstore in Florida.

“I bought every self-help book I could find,” she said with a laugh. “I still have a stack of them at home.” 

There was gold in that stack of books. Halladay read The Mental ABC’s of Pitching by sports psychologist Harvey Dorfman. He didn’t just read it, he lived it. Dorfman became a mentor to Halladay to the point where the pitcher was well on his way to becoming a “performance specialist” at the time of his death. He had even worked with a number of Phillies prospects on the mental aspects of pitching the day before his death.

There was another factor in Halladay’s growth from potential first-round flame out to Hall of Famer.

He had the inner drive of 100 turbo engines.

Where did it come from?

“I don’t want to say fear, but when you’re terrified to lose you’ll do anything you can to succeed,” Brandy said. “And he did not want to lose and so he did every possible thing he could to win. That’s what he did. He worked hard every day.”

Halladay wanted to win so badly that he pushed for a trade to the Phillies in 2009. The Phillies were up in those days. The Jays were rebuilding. In 12 seasons in Toronto, Halladay never pitched in the postseason. Pitchers only have so many bullets in their arms and his clock was ticking. He saw the Phillies as a team that could get him to the postseason. He was traded to the Phillies before the 2010 season and experienced the thrill of the postseason twice with his new club.

Philadelphia was so special to Halladay that his family has made the decision he will go into the Hall of Fame without a team’s logo on his cap. Out of respect for both of his baseball homes, including the one in which he spent just four of his 16 seasons, he will go into the Hall with a blank cap on his bronze plaque (see story).

“It was an amazing opportunity,” Brandy said of her family’s time in Philadelphia. “It’s the most loving, passionate, insane city. It was everything we hoped to have a chance to be a part of.”

Halladay did not win a World Series ring in Philadelphia. But late in his career, as he gained wisdom and perspective, he often talked about the importance of enjoying the journey. He loved his Philadelphia journey, loved pitching in front of those sellout crowds. He laid the foundation for a Hall of Fame career in Toronto and pushed it over the goal line with two postseason berths, a perfect game, a no-hitter and another Cy Young Award in Philadelphia.

Halladay will be officially inducted into the Hall of Fame on July 21 in Cooperstown, New York. Those who earn their way there gain a measure of immortality and that is certainly comforting to a family that has been through so much.

“Just to be able to think that people are going to be able to remember him for hundreds or thousands of years after we’re all gone is pretty special,” Braden said.

His mom’s eyes welled with emotion.

“I don’t think time heals wounds,” Brandy Halladay said. “I think time gives you an opportunity to learn how to live with your new circumstances. You don’t ever heal. You don’t ever forget somebody. You don’t ever get over something. You just learn how to deal with it in a new way.

“I’m super choked-up right now but things really are great and I’m grateful and we’re learning and we’re growing and we’re good …

“These are good tears.”

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Which team will Roy Halladay represent in the Hall of Fame? The decision was easy for his family

Which team will Roy Halladay represent in the Hall of Fame? The decision was easy for his family

NEW YORK — Roy Halladay was drafted and developed by the Toronto Blue Jays. He spent 12 of his 16 big-league seasons with the Jays and earned 148 of his 203 victories with that club.

It would be completely understandable — even in Philadelphia, where Halladay spent four memorable seasons — if he were to go into the baseball Hall of Fame with a Blue Jays cap perched atop his head on the bronze plaque that will hang forever on the hallowed walls of Cooperstown.

But Halladay’s cap will carry no logo at all.

“I know we spent the majority of our time in Toronto,” Halladay’s widow, Brandy, said at Wednesday’s official Hall of Fame news conference. “Toronto gave us that chance, that base, that start. But Philly also gave us a chance to win a ring and the passion that we wanted. There’s no way to choose and so we’ve decided that he’ll go in with no team.”

Brandy Halladay was joined by the couple’s two teenage sons, Braden and Ryan, at the Manhattan news conference. The three of them had flown to New York on Wednesday morning. They were initially supposed to take a sunrise commercial flight out of Tampa. Phillies managing partner John Middleton caught wind of the family’s travel plans, surmised that it would be too stressful on them, and sent his private jet to the Tampa area to deliver them to New York.

Roy Halladay was elected to the Hall of Fame on Tuesday, in his first year of eligibility. The honor comes less than 15 months after he was killed when the small plane he was piloting crashed off the west coast of Florida in November 2017. Halladay will be officially enshrined into Cooperstown on July 21, along with closer extraordinaire Mariano Rivera, another first-ballot selection. Designated hitter Edgar Martinez and pitcher Mike Mussina were also elected Tuesday and outfielder Harold Baines and pitcher Lee Smith were elected by a special committee in December.

Mussina split his career between the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees. He said Wednesday that he was undecided which team’s cap would adorn his Hall of Fame plaque.

The Halladay family had no indecision.

“It was a quick decision,” Brandy said. “The Hall walks you through this. They say, ‘Don’t feel rushed,’ but I kind of already knew how I felt.

“We think that this is the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. It’s not the Phillies’ Hall of Fame or the Blue Jays’ Hall of Fame. Roy is going in as a Major League Baseball player and I think that is important because that’s what he is.

“I would hope that he represents something to all of baseball, not just to Phillies or Blue Jays fans, but to baseball as a whole and I think that is how he should be represented.”

Halladay spent just four seasons in a Phillies uniform and though he never got that ring, he had some incredible highs with the club. He pitched a perfect game and made it to the postseason for the first time in his career. He pitched a no-hitter in the playoffs. He won the National League Cy Young award as a Phillie in 2010 and finished second in the voting in 2011. He had won the American League Cy Young Award with the Jays in 2003. He is on the Phillies’ Wall of Fame and the Jays’ Level of Excellence.

Though the family professed its love and gratitude to both cities, going into the Hall with no direct team affiliation could be translated by some as a sign of respect for Halladay’s time and accomplishments in Philadelphia. After all, he spent just a quarter of his career with the Phillies.

“It was an amazing opportunity,” Brandy Halladay said of her family’s time in Philadelphia. “It’s the most loving, passionate, insane city. It was everything we hoped to have a chance to be part of.”

Several players have gone into the Hall of Fame without a team logo on their cap. Catfish Hunter, who split his career between the Oakland A’s and Yankees, has a blank cap. Recently, Greg Maddux could not pick between the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves and went in with a blank cap. Ditto for manager Tony La Russa, who skippered World Series winners in Oakland and St. Louis. Though the Hall of Fame technically has final say on which cap a player wears on his plague, it usually works with the player and defers to his wishes.

In this case, the Hall of Fame will defer to the Halladay family’s wish. Out of respect for his two baseball homes, Roy Halladay’s cap will be blank.

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