NEW YORK — We found out Wednesday exactly how much of an impact Philadelphia had on the late Roy Halladay and his family. The Hall of Fame pitcher only spent four of his 15-plus seasons with the Phillies, and, at times, he pitched in excruciating pain during the final two. But those first two years meant so much to Halladay that his wife, Brandy, and teenage sons, Braden and Ryan, decided that the Cooperstown plaque detailing all the pitcher’s career accomplishments will depict Doc in a cap with neither the Toronto Blue Jays nor the Phillies emblem.
“We talked about it, and there’s no way to decide between the two teams,” Brandy Halladay said at the Baseball Hall of Fame induction news conference on the 20th floor of a New York hotel. “I know we spent the majority of our time in Toronto. Toronto gave us that chance, that base, that start, but Philly also gave us a chance to win a ring and the passion that we wanted. There’s no way to choose, and so we’ve decided that he’ll go in with no team.”
Earlier, Brandy Halladay gave a more concise definition of the Halladays time in the City of Brotherly Love.
“It was an amazing opportunity,” she said. “It’s the most loving, passionate insane city. It was everything we hoped to have a chance to be a part of.”
It had to be a difficult day for Brandy Halladay and her two boys. They flew in from Florida on Tuesday night on the private jet provided by Phillies owner John Middleton and sat in the front row as Halladay’s fellow Hall of Fame inductees — Mariano Rivera, Mike Mussina, and Edgar Martinez — relived some of the iconic moments of their careers.
Rivera, the first player in history to receive 100 percent of the vote from the Baseball Writers Association of America, even shared a funny story about showing Halladay the grip he used to throw his trademark cutter, arguably the most lethal pitch in baseball history.
“In 2008, Halladay and myself were talking in the outfield about pitching … and I was teaching him the grip of the cutter, and he did it,” Rivera said. “He was throwing it and Derek [Jeter] and all the hitters on my team were mad at me. As a matter of fact, I got fined by the kangaroo court, because Halladay was so good against us, and they blamed me. I said, ‘You guys didn’t hit the ball.’ ”
Brandy Halladay and her sons opted not to join the Hall of Famers on the dais, but they agreed to field questions afterward about the husband and father who developed a legendary drive that served as his fuel to reach Cooperstown. Even though she did not throw a pitch, Brandy Halladay also played a huge role in her husband’s Hall of Fame career, which nearly stalled in its embryonic stages.
A first-round pick by the Blue Jays out of Arvada West High School in Colorado, Halladay struggled to find his way early in his career and was forced to open the 2001 season with Toronto’s high-A Dunedin team after posting a 10.64 ERA the year before in the big leagues.
“We thought we were done,” Brandy Halladay said. “The truth is, they didn’t send us back thinking we were going to make it. They sent us back to figure out what they were going to do with us and who they could [get for us in a trade]. We talked about retirement. We saved enough. We saved everything. He didn’t want me to have to go back to work because we had a baby at home. That was a really tough year or two or three.”
Brandy Halladay said her husband had placed immense pressure on himself to succeed, and he was in a bad way when he found out he was being demoted. She went to a Barnes and Noble, “and I bought every self-help book I could find. I still have a stack of them at home.”
One of them changed her husband’s life. The Mental ABC’s of Pitching: A Handbook for Performance Enhancement became Halladay’s baseball bible. It was written by Harvey Dorfman, who would eventually become Halladay’s pitching muse.
“I just ran into that book. It was just a chance happening,” she recalled. “I think the words in it were important, but I think the relationship Roy developed with Harvey because of that book and those experiences are really what changed his career and changed him as a man and as a father.”
“Harveyisms,” the word Brandy Halladay coined for Dorfman’s advice, became and remain part of the Halladay household. Some of them have undoubtedly helped the family get through the grief they have endured since Halladay was killed in a plane crash a little more than 14 months ago.
Days like Wednesday should have been filled with nothing but unbridled joy, but toward the end of her 20-minute session with the media, Brandy Halladay could not hold back tears. The question that choked her up was about time healing the pain and special events like this one helping the process.
“It’s a fair question,” she said. “I don’t think time heals wounds. I think time gives you an opportunity to learn how to live with your new surroundings, your new circumstances. So you don’t ever heal. You don’t ever forget somebody. You don’t ever get over something. You just learn how to deal with it in a new way. We’re doing good. These are good tears.”