It has been an emotional week for Blue Jays fans and fans across Major League Baseball. Roy Halladay, the Blue Jay’s ace from 1998-2009, in every sense of the word, tragically passed away on November 7, 2017. As I sat down to write about Roy and reflect on his remarkable career, it became increasingly more difficult to put my thoughts into words. I read every article and anecdote I could find, from beat writers to national media, and one theme kept surfacing: the magnitude of the impact that Roy had on everybody around him. No matter what your relationship was to Roy, he left an impression on you. For that reason, I decided to speak to some of the members of our baseball staff to get a sense of what Roy’s career meant to them.
“Doc was the best role model I could have ever asked for growing up. He was a shining light for an often lackluster Blue Jays team from the time I started watching baseball as an 8 year old to when I began University (where I continued to play baseball). If you know a little about Roy Halladay, it’s easy to understand how I fell in love with Halladay’s game, demeanor and story during that time. He was truly a hero to everyone growing up during those years. My family’s current dog is even named after him!
His influence had a big impact on my love of the game and some of the success I had playing it. Hard work, being generous to others with your time, and a pursuit of mastery are some of the most important lessons I have taken from both Doc and my sports career. I can’t help but appreciate the impact Roy Halladay had on me and many others as a role model. Or how my approach in baseball, teaching and life might have otherwise been different. We’re all taking some time to appreciate Halladay, and my heart truly goes out to his family and friends who lost him far too soon.
Simon Weisz, Co-Founder, True North Sports Camps
“As a baseball player and pitcher growing up in Toronto, The Doc was my idol and role model not only because of his dominance in a Jays uniform, but his incredible work ethic. There was nothing I looked forward to more than heading to the Skydome for a Roy Halladay start, because you knew you were witnessing something special. Not to mention the game would be over in two hours!”
Jake Gallo, Program Director, True North Sports Camps
“Roy Halladay means absolutely everything to me as a baseball fan. There’s almost no way that I can picture myself as passionate as I am about pitching (wearing the number 32!), the Blue Jays, and baseball all together if it wasn’t for Doc’s undeniable influence on me as a kid.
Growing up, I’d spend hours on the bump the day after watching Doc carve up an AL East rival, trying to mirror every move my hero would make on the mound. Two things I’ll always remember about Doc are his robotic mechanics, and his work ethic and focus every single day – but especially on his start days. Even when my pitching mechanics began to develop on their own, and I know I goofed off a whole lot more than Doc probably ever did around the baseball field, the focused mentality in my head as I prepare for starts and compete on the diamond to this day comes back to a question I’d ask myself a lot as a kid: “How would Doc do it?”
Roy Halladay is everything you could ever want to be as a ballplayer and a person. He said he wanted to leave baseball in a better place than when he found it, and considering he had the biggest impact on turning me into one of the most passionate baseball fans you’ll ever talk to, I think he did just that. I’m so grateful to have been able to watch, learn from, and be inspired by his greatness. Thanks for everything, Doc.”
Andrew Ziedins, Counselor, North Toronto Baseball Camp
“Doc was such an easy hook into baseball. If I wanted to see greatness, I didn’t have to go far. I always liked to watch a lot of baseball – I usually didn’t care what uniform a player wore (except, maybe, the Red Sox) but Doc was ours, he was Toronto. I remember giving him a huge standing ovation when he came back with the Phillies. I remember passionately rooting for him to achieve postseason success. I remember the thrilling no-hitter and the perfect game and I wish they were Toronto achievements but he felt like a Torontonian, too, and so I didn’t care. Doc was a key figure in baseball for me, a major league role model when I was young. I still imitate his mechanics when I pitch.”
Gabe Nisker, Counselor, True North Sports Camps
“I don’t remember specific games in particular outside of a couple, but what I remember most were all the times I would sit in an empty Sky Dome watching Roy pitch for a team that no one wanted to watch…and those were the games I’ll never forget.”
Kenneth Pittman, Program Director, True North Sports Camps
“Without ever meeting him, Roy Halladay was my favourite player and also fostered an indelible life lesson. As a young adult, I watched Doc’s unmatched work ethic contribute to him becoming the best pitcher in baseball. To me, that meant that if you put in more effort than your competitors you will ultimately be successful in achieving your goals. Though I was never going to be a professional baseball player, I have carried this lesson into my career in business – if you outwork your competition and stay committed to your goal, success is inevitable.”
Jeremy Weisz, Co-Founder, True North Sports Camps
“Roy Halladay taught me countless lessons over the years. He taught me about work ethic. He taught me about the mental side of baseball. He taught me about preparation and mastering your craft.
As a rookie, I remember that unforgettable second career start when he had a no-hitter broken up with two outs in the ninth inning against Detroit. A few years later, I remember his incredible determination and resilience as he was demoted to Class-A Dunedin with the mandate to change his entire delivery.
Throughout the 2000s, I remember the Blue Jays being a constant disappointment, yet every 5th day we had the opportunity to watch the best pitcher in baseball start for our favourite team. I remember expecting to see a no-hitter every time Roy completed a 1,2,3 inning in the top of the 1st.
Once he was traded to Philadelphia, I remember thinking how incredible it was that an athlete could ask for a trade, and every single fan supported his decision. As sad as it was to see Roy in a different uniform, I remember feeling a sense of pride when he threw a Perfect Game and then a no-hitter in his first career playoff game. He always felt like a Blue Jay at heart.”
Gabriel Diamond, Co-Founder, True North Sports Camps
From his work ethic to his competitiveness, Roy Halladay was truly the ultimate professional. As Ken Rosenthal said, “he was everything you would want a person and a baseball player to be.” We look forward to celebrating Roy’s career throughout our baseball programs next summer in an effort to honour the impact he had on youth baseball in Toronto. From all of us at True North Sports Camps: Thank you, Roy.