Sunday, February 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Fennelly: Roy Halladay — father, husband, friend, ‘normal guy’

CLEARWATER — It would have been a great day for a baseball game.

The Spectrum Field grounds crew did its job. The basepaths were watered down with a hose. The baselines were drawn in chalk. The batter’s box was laid out. Home plate was cleaned. First, second and third base were made shiny and white.

But it also set up a hundred folding chairs between home plate and the pitcher’s mound where Roy Halladay once worked, and worked, for the Philadelphia Phillies.

There was a small stage. There were photos of Halladay from his days with the Phillies and the Toronto Blue Jays, next to the floral arrangements. Halladay’s jersey numbers, 34 and 32, were stenciled on the mound.

The life of Roy Halladay — "Doc" to the baseball world — was celebrated Tuesday afternoon, by his wife, Brandy, and his sons, 17-year-old Braden and 13-year-old Ryan, and by family and friends. And by dozens of famous ballplayers. And by fans in the crowd of more than 1,000 at the memorial, most of whom never met Halladay, 40, who died last Tuesday when the plane he piloted crashed in the Gulf of Mexico off the Pasco County coast.

A loving husband and father. That’s what you kept hearing about Roy Halladay after his death. There were his baseball numbers, 203 wins and his two Cy Young Awards. It made him rich. He wanted to fly planes, like his father, to soar.

But somehow Halladay came off like everyone else. "A normal guy." You heard that again and again. Halladay blended into this community after he retired from baseball in 2013. He lived in Odessa. He coached at his sons’ baseball games, quiet, humble, but focused, like in his playing days. Roy Halladay, by all accounts, was very good at being normal.

"He wasn’t Roy Halladay the pitching star. He was just Roy, my friend, my mentor," said Nolan Hudi, a left-handed pitching star for Calvary Christian High School in Clearwater. Halladay was a volunteer assistant coach at Calvary Christian, which last season won the Class 4A state title. Braden Halladay pitches for the team.

"Our players love him not because he’s a Hall of Famer," Calvary Christian coach Greg Olsen said. "They love him because he loved them."

Hudi first went flying with Halladay just three days before Halladay died in the same two-seat, single-propeller ICON 5 airplane. The ICON 5 can land on water.

"We took off from the pond behind their house," Hudi said. "We stopped to get gas. We landed on a runway, took off from a runway, then over the water. Flying with him, there are only a few times I saw Roy as happy. The look that I saw on his face was something else. That was passion. It was incredible. We talked about baseball, life, everything. That was the last time I got to talk to Roy. He was more than a coach. He was family."

There were moving tributes from those who spoke Tuesday. Hudi and his Calvary teammates sat in their baseball jerseys behind the third base dugout. Also present were players from the Clearwater Burn, a summer travel team Halladay coached.

Through her tears, Brandy Halladay spoke beautiful words about her husband. She looked at her boys.

"Best of all, I still get to see him every day, because I look at you."

Hudi, a junior, helped pitch Calvary Christian to the state title last season, including winning his start in the state semifinals. His friend, Braden Halladay, finished the game. Hudi loves the Halladay family.

"And I have immense love for Roy," Hudi said. "He’s in heaven. I know that. I’m just excited that I’ll see my friend again one day."

After the celebration, the folding chairs were put away. A tarp was placed on the pitcher’s mound. The outfield sprinklers came on.

It would have been a great day for a baseball game.

     
Comments
Rays Journal: A key step back for Venters, sharp day for Snell, big blast by Cron

Rays Journal: A key step back for Venters, sharp day for Snell, big blast by Cron

FORT MYERS – The big heartwarming story will be when – and thus if – LHP Jonny Venters makes it back to the majors for the first time since 2012, having battled through three elbow surgeries.But Sunday was worth a headline, too, as ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
On what Odorizzi has to feel good and bad about after trade from Rays to Twins

On what Odorizzi has to feel good and bad about after trade from Rays to Twins

Two things were pretty clear in talking to RHP Jake Odorizzi this morning in Fort Myers about being traded from the Rays to Twins.He couldn't be much happier than to be a new that that has legitimate playoff aspirations, and that he feels for those h...
Updated: 8 hours ago
For starters, Rays at Twins, with Venters making first spring outing since 2013

For starters, Rays at Twins, with Venters making first spring outing since 2013

As the Rays head back to Fort Myers today for a game on the other side of I-75 to take on the Twins at 1:05, there are several spring debuts worth noting:First, that LHP Jonny Venters, trying to make it back to the majors for the first time since 201...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Ex-Rays prospect Andrew Toles working his way back from knee surgery for Dodgers

Ex-Rays prospect Andrew Toles working his way back from knee surgery for Dodgers

SURPRISE, Ariz. — Andrew Toles made a two-base error and went 0-for-3, and his team lost. All told, it was still a pretty good day for the Dodgers left fielder.In his first game since a serious knee injury last May, the former Rays prospect ret...
Published: 02/25/18
Inside the Rays’ plan to prove the tanking truthers wrong

Inside the Rays’ plan to prove the tanking truthers wrong

PORT CHARLOTTE – The Rays know tanking."We tanked in 2006 and '07, if you want to call it that," principal owner Stuart Sternberg said. "We were the original tankers. Or tankees. It seems to be all the fad now."In losing 101 and 96 games in the...
Published: 02/24/18
Rays Journal: Duffy not just playing but playing well, Faria struggles, more

Rays Journal: Duffy not just playing but playing well, Faria struggles, more

FORT MYERS – Just playing on back-to-back days was significant for Rays 3B Matt Duffy.Playing well has made the start of spring training even better."Really liked the way Duffy has continued to play," manager Kevin Cash said after a 4-3 loss to...
Published: 02/24/18
That guy standing by Cash in the dugout? All part of Rays’ plan

That guy standing by Cash in the dugout? All part of Rays’ plan

Jonathan ErlichmanFor a moment Friday, it looked as if a young businessman, accountant or computer guy had won one of those charity auctions to spend a game in uniform in the Rays dugout.Actually, it was Rays analytics director Jonathan Erlichman, a ...
Published: 02/24/18
For starters: Back to back starts for Duffy as Rays face Red Sox, 1:05

For starters: Back to back starts for Duffy as Rays face Red Sox, 1:05

UPDATE, 11:36: Manager Kevin Cash said the plan is to play Duffy on back to back days a couple times early in spring, believing the short bursts of activity will best help him build up after missing all of 2017. … Matt Andriese will come out of...
Published: 02/24/18
The truth about the Tampa Bay Rays’ reset

The truth about the Tampa Bay Rays’ reset

The Tampa Bay Rays are not going to be very good this year.We already knew that.They have gutted a team that won 80 games last season. Among those sent packing: Evan Longoria, Corey Dickerson, Jake Odorizzi and team MVP Steven Souza Jr.Yeah, this thi...
Published: 02/24/18
Rays spring training info: Saturday at Red Sox, 1:05

Rays spring training info: Saturday at Red Sox, 1:05

Rays Saturday scheduleAt Red Sox1:05, JetBlue Park, 11500 Fenway South Drive, Fort MyersPitchers: Rays – RH Jake Faria, RH Matt Andriese, RH Dustin McGowan, LH Ryan Yarbrough, RF Chaz Roe, LH Jose Alvarado, RH Evan Scribner, RH Jose Mujica; Red...
Published: 02/24/18