Thursday, October 18, 2018
  • The Heater
  • Marc Topkin

MLB star Roy Halladay remembered at celebration of life service in Clearwater

Former Blue Jays and Phillies ace Roy Halladay was remembered Tuesday afternoon in a celebration of life service at Clearwater's Spectrum Field.

Halladay, 40, died Nov. 7 when the plane he was piloting crashed into the Gulf of Mexico off the Pasco County coast.

"I'm not sure how to be me without him," said Halladay's wife, Brandy, who received a standing ovation after her speech wrapped up the celebration.

Former Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi read a letter to Halladay, saying he wished he could have delivered it in person. Ricciardi grew emotional while thanking Halladay for his friendship over the years.

Phillies owner John Middleton praised Halladay for being more than an athlete, always making time for charitable causes, being "the real deal".

Former Phillies teammate Cole Hamels called Halladay the "most humble human being I ever met."

Chase Utley, another ex-Phillies teammate, told a story depicting how hard of a worker Halladay was based on his workout on the first day of spring training.

Charlie Manuel, the former Phillies manager, raved about what a good teammate Halladay was.

Former Blue Jays teammate Chris Carpenter talked about bonding with Halladay in the minor leagues and trying to make it to the majors; how determined Halladay was to be great. Carpenter also shared a story about Halladay belly-flopping into the coffee-colored water of the Amazon River during a fishing trip to Brazil.

Blue Jays athletic trainer George Poulis remembered how proud he was of Halladay to be at the 2009 All-Star Game.

Halladay's father, Roy Jr., said Halladay was an even better son than a player. He recalled how much time they spent together working on baseball during Halladay's childhood.

Halladay's wife, Brandy, spoke last, saying she tried to boil down all the words she had "to 11 or 12 pages".

After receiving a standing ovation from those in attendance, she joined her sons, Braden and Ryan, on the mound. They joined other speakers, friends and relatives in releasing butterflies as a final goodbye to Halladay.

Halladay was one of the best starters of his era, pitching 16 years for the Blue Jays and Phillies, twice winning the Cy Young Award and finishing in the top five in voting five other times. Overall, Halladay compiled a 203-105 record and a career 3.38 ERA, retiring in December 2013 because of ongoing back issues.

Career highlights included a perfect game for Philadelphia on May 29, 2010, against the Marlins and — in his first postseason start — a  no-hitter against the Reds in the 2010 division series playoff opener.

After retiring, Halladay settled in the Tampa Bay area, living in Odessa, and was heavily involved in coaching his sons on area youth baseball teams. He served as a volunteer assistant coach at Calvary Christian High School this spring.