The elation of election to the Hall of Fame ricocheted around the baseball world Tuesday.
Yankees closer extraordinaire Mariano Rivera was the headliner as the first unanimous choice, longtime Mariners DH Edgar Martinez and Orioles/Yankees starter Mike Mussina sharing in the excitement.
But it was different at the big house in Odessa, where the joy was tinged with sadness that Roy Halladay was not alive to share in the moment with his wife, Brandy, and sons Braden and Ryan.
“If only Roy were here to personally express his gratitude for this honor, what an even more amazing day this would be,’’ Brandy said in a statement.
Halladay died in November 2017 at age 40 when the small plane he was piloting crashed into the Gulf of Mexico near New Port Richey.
A great honor for a great player and an even greater person, proud of you dad! I love you pic.twitter.com/I4rZlH5B3M— Braden Halladay (@BradenHalladay) January 22, 2019
The Halladays had settled in Odessa after Roy’s retirement, having spent 16 seasons with the Blue Jays and Phillies, training in the area his entire career.
That Halladay stayed involved in the game he loved, coaching his two sons and so many others, including serving as a volunteer coach at Calvary Christian, made him more a part of the Tampa Bay community in life, and in death.
Halladay won two Cy Young awards and posted an overall 203-104, 3.38 record that didn’t properly reflect his immense dominance during a 10-season run of 170-75, 2.97. He threw a perfect game during the 2010 season, then a no-hitter in the opening round of the playoffs, just the game’s second post-season no-hitter.
As much success as Halladay had on the mound, teammates raved about his incredible work ethic, selflessness and generosity, that he was a better person than pitcher.
“With Roy it was never about him, but always about the people around him,’’ former manager Charlie Manuel said. “We all miss Roy every day.’’
As fierce a competitor Halladay was, it didn’t surprise that Brandy said he was more driven to winning each game than election to the Hall.
“Being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame is every boy’s dream. To stand on that stage in Cooperstown and deliver your acceptance speech in front of baseball’s most enthusiastic fans is something that every baseball player aspires to achieve, and Roy was no exception,’’ Brandy said.
“But that was not Roy’s goal. It was not his goal to have those three letters after his signature. His goal was to be successful every single day of his 16-year career. Tonight’s announcement is the end result of that effort.’’
His election was decisive, receiving 85.4 percent (363 of 425) of the votes cast by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, comfortably above the requisite 75 percent.
Rivera was named on every ballot, the first in 83 years of BBWAA voting; Ken Griffey Jr. had come closest in 2016 with 99.32 percent, 437 of 440.
Rivera certainly was deserving for a career that ended in a Sept. 26, 2013, game against the Rays. A key member of the Yankees dynastic run in winning five World Series championships, Rivera set the career record with 652 saves over 19 seasons, plus 42 more in the postseason with a staggering 0.70 ERA in the postseason.
“Just to be considered a Hall of Famer is quite an honor,’’ Rivera said. “Being unanimous is amazing.’’
Martinez was elected in his final year of eligibility, his vote total rising steadily from 27 percent in 2015. He hit .312 with 309 home runs in 18 seasons, and is the second player elected who was primarily a DH, joining Frank Thomas.
Mussina didn’t win a Cy Young Award, 300 games or a World Series, but posted consistently impressive numbers while pitching his entire 18-year career in the rugged AL East, going 270-153, 3.68, with 2,813 strikeouts.
Tampa native Fred McGriff received 39.8 percent of the votes in his final year on the ballot; he can be considered in December 2021 by the Hall’s Today’s Game era committee. Two preeminent players associated closely with PED use but never disciplined for it remain well short, Roger Clemens getting 59.5 percent, Barry Bonds 59.1.
The Halladays opted for privacy on Tuesday in declining interviews, though friends said Brandy was planning to attend the Hall’s Wednesday media conference in New York. The family celebration understandably was muted. Brandy thanked the writers for the “overwhelming” vote, adding, “It means so much” to her and the boys. Braden, a senior at Calvary, made that clear in a Twitter post: “A great honor for a great player and an even greater person, proud of you dad! I love you.’’
Contact Marc Topkin at [email protected]. Follow @TBTimes_Rays