Pat Gillick and Roy Halladay have much in common. The two men earned their baseball chops in Toronto then came to Philadelphia to finish off their wonderful careers.
On Saturday night, they will share another common bond when they are honored with a place on the Phillies’ Wall of Fame. It will be an evening where celebration and poignancy intersect. Gillick was the general manager of the 2008 World Series champion Phillies and he goes onto the Wall of Fame during a weekend celebration to honor the 10-year anniversary of that team.
Halladay, who pushed for a trade to Philadelphia because he admired the core and style of play of those great Phillies teams of Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, was not part of the World Series championship team. He came to Philadelphia before the 2010 season and in just four seasons left an indelible mark on the franchise with his greatness, his intensity, his legendary work ethic and, of course, a perfect game, a playoff no-hitter and a Cy Young Award.
Gillick was the architect of a Blue Jays franchise that Halladay eventually became part of and for which he won a Cy Young Award in 2003. Gillick arrived on the ground floor and took the Jays from expansion status to back-to-back World Series championships in 1992 and 1993. He is honored on that team’s Level of Excellence. He is also a member of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and the big one, the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
After his time as Blue Jays general manager, Gillick stayed on and did some scouting for the club.
He remembers peeking in on a high school pitcher from Denver in the spring of 1995. He reported back to the organization that the kid was special, worth keeping an eye on.
That kid was Roy Halladay.
“It’s really an honor to go on the Wall of Fame,” Gillick said.
He mentioned how much it meant to him to be just the second Phillies executive to earn the honor, joining the legendary Paul Owens. Gillick recalled that the first trade he ever made as a GM was with Owens. He acquired Tommy Hutton in a cash deal.
“But to go on the Wall with Roy is really special,” Gillick continued. “He is someone who is legendary for the way he prepared for games, physically and mentally.”
Gillick had already had a marvelous career when he arrived in Philadelphia in the fall of 2005. He’d been GM in Toronto, Baltimore and Seattle, taking all of those teams to the postseason. Gillick was between jobs and not ready to retire when club president David Montgomery asked him to fly to Philadelphia to meet in the fall of 2005. Montgomery and Gillick chatted for five hours at a hotel near the airport. The next day, Montgomery offered Gillick the job. Gillick was also being pursued by the Dodgers. He chose the Phillies.
Gillick’s decision was a difference-maker in the rise of the Phillies and his own career. He made some tweaks around the edges of a promising and improving roster, brought in Jayson Werth and Brad Lidge, two players who had run out of time in other organizations, and the Phillies won the World Series in 2008. Gillick, class man that he is, has never failed to share credit for the team’s success. To this day, he praises the work of his predecessor, Ed Wade, and his lieutenants, Ruben Amaro Jr., and Mike Arbuckle, for the role they had in constructing the club. He credits his go-to scout, Charley Kerfeld, for convincing him to bring in Lidge, the closer who went 48 for 48 in save chances that season. Gillick still raves about the managing job that Charlie Manuel did. Funny thing, Gillick could have made a managerial change after the 2006 season. He stuck with Manuel and says it was the best move he made in Philadelphia.
Gillick received baseball’s highest honor when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in the summer of 2011.
It never would have happened if he didn’t come to Philadelphia.
Coming to Philadelphia and winning that third World Series ring put him over the top.
“Winning the World Series in 2008 gave me the opportunity to be elected,” he said Friday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.
Beyond their common Toronto roots and baseball greatness, Gillick and Halladay have something else in common. If the Philadelphia experience put Gillick over the top for election to Cooperstown, it will probably do the same for Halladay. He was on a Hall of Fame track when he arrived in Philadelphia and his time with the Phillies — the Cy Young Award in 2010, the second-place finish in 2011, the perfect game, the no-hitter, the two postseasons — only enhanced his candidacy.
It’s not difficult to envision Halladay joining Gillick in Cooperstown some day. In fact, it seems like a slam dunk.
On Saturday night, we get to see them take their place on the Phillies’ Wall of Fame and that’s pretty special, too.