PHILADELPHIA — Nearly an hour after pitching the game of his life for the second time this season, Roy Halladay walked through the Phillies clubhouse. No one spoke to him as he made his way across the room to his locker in the corner.
A sheet of white paper was taped up there, the first few paragraphs of a breaking news story someone printed out. "Phillies' Roy Halladay throws playoff no-hitter," the headline read. Halladay studied it for a few seconds. He never looked at the unopened bottle of Dom Perignon 1999 sitting in a bucket of ice to the right of him. He pulled his hooded sweatshirt over his head and disappeared through a doorway.
For 13 seasons, Roy Halladay had waited for this moment, as did the rest of baseball. In 2 hours and 34 minutes Wednesday, he made the most memorable postseason debut ever as the Phillies beat the Reds 4-0 in Game 1 of the National League division series at Citizens Bank Park.
"It was a lot of fun," Halladay, 33, said, as only he could.
After pitching one of the greatest games in history, Halladay was mobbed by his teammates on the mound. It was a scene that happens in the postseason only when a team wins a series.
And this was just the beginning.
"It's surreal, it really is," he said. "I just wanted to pitch here, to pitch in the postseason. To go out and have a game like that, it's a dream come true."
Halladay pitched the second no-hitter in postseason history. He stands beside the Yankees' Don Larsen, who pitched a perfect game in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series.
It was Halladay's second no-hitter of the season. He threw a perfect game May 29 against the Marlins, a night that became the signature moment of his career — until Wednesday.
The sellout crowd stood, cheered and waved white towels for much of the final six outs. Fans booed other fans for leaving their seats for different viewing positions.
In the owner's box, Phillies president David Montgomery sat with other team executives. He didn't move, either.
"You're watching," Montgomery said, "and you say, 'This can't really happen, can it?' "
It did. And many in the Phillies clubhouse said Halladay had even better stuff than he did that sticky night in Miami. On a bigger stage, with the baseball world watching, Halladay was pristine.
"He was filthy," Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins said. "Completely filthy."
The only runner, Jay Bruce, reached on a six-pitch walk in the fifth inning. Halladay threw first-pitch strikes to 25 of the 28 batters he faced. Of the 104 pitches he threw, 25 were balls.
"Absolutely unreal," manager Charlie Manuel said.
Maybe Rich Dubee, Halladay's pitching coach, said it best.
"The marathon is over," Dubee said. "The 11 years of grinding and working are over. Now it's time to really enjoy it and cherish it. I think he understands that. You work so long to get here. You'd better be yourself. You might as well enjoy it and run with it. (Wednesday) he did."
The final play was the most dramatic. Brandon Phillips dribbled a ball a few feet away from home. It was a sure out. But Phillips' bat landed in the way of the ball, which bounced against it. Catcher Carlos Ruiz fell to his knees as he picked up the ball and tossed to first to end it.
"I was definitely panicking because it was the big out," Ruiz said.
Otherwise, the Reds never came close to a hit.
So if that was Roy Halladay's postseason debut, what's next?
"You prepare for the next one," Dubee said. "Knowing Roy Halladay, he'll prepare for the next one."
He will do that as the author of one of baseball's greatest games ever.