IT'S NOT SURPRISING that Roy Halladay began working with legendary Colorado baseball guru Bus Campbell when he was 13 years old. Almost every promising pitcher who grew up in the Denver area did, a list that also includes Hall of Famer Goose Gossage and Phillies closer Brad Lidge.
Campbell was old school. He refused to accept payment for his advice and counseling.
Halladay went on to become the first-round draft choice of the Toronto Blue Jays in 1995. He signed for what was then a club record of $975,000. And at the end of that season, he figured out a way to repay his mentor.
The story goes that he conspired with Campbell's wife to get him out of the house. Then the installer arrived to put in the satellite dish, complete with the MLB Extra Innings package.
The Phillies didn't trade Cliff Lee to Seattle and three of their best prospects to the Blue Jays to get Halladay because he's a nice guy. They did it because he's one of the very best pitchers in baseball.
At the same time, it didn't hurt.
"He's a good makeup guy," general manager Ruben Amaro said after the deal became official on Wednesday. "That means a lot to me and to the organization."
Ultimately, the success of this trade will be judged on how well Halladay pitches and whether the Phillies make it back to the World Series. And that's the way it should be.
But it's good to recognize players who try to give something back, too.
In December 2008 he was named winner of the George Gross/Toronto Sun Sportsperson of the Year award, given annually to the athlete judged to have had the most impact on the Toronto sports scene. A $1,000 donation was made in his name to a charity of his choice.
He and his wife, Brandy, became known for their work in the community. Once a month, the couple entertained 10 to 15 children from the Toronto Sick Kids Hospital in a Rogers Centre skybox.
He also worked with the hospital to try to improve some of the treatment rooms.
"I try to be as helpful as I can, be a good person," he told the paper at the time. "I feel it's more important to be a good person than a good pitcher. I had to get to the point I liked the person I was, regardless of what happened on the field.
"You play for a short period. Substance is more important. It's more important that you're a good father, a good husband and a good person in the community. That really defines who you are."
Growing up, one of Halladay's role models was Braves outfielder Dale Murphy, widely known as one of the best people in the game.
Halladay's gift to Campbell was an early sign that he intended to follow in the footsteps of the two-time NL MVP in more ways than one. But Campbell may have gotten the last laugh.