COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — One of Brandy Halladay’s favorite expressions is that “it takes a village,” and she used it again Sunday afternoon in the famous village that houses baseball’s greatest players. She used it at just the right time and in just the right way.
“I say it a lot, but it takes a village and we truly have a great one,” Brandy Halladay said as she looked out at an expansive crowd that clearly understood how difficult it was for her to pinch-hit for her late husband just 20 months after he died in a Gulf of Mexico plane crash that still has some dark undertones.
And, boy, was it difficult. Brandy Halladay lost it before she could say hello. She started to cry as a giant video board to her right replayed highlights of her husband’s career while the late pitcher’s closest friend and former Toronto Blue Jays teammate Chris Carpenter painted a picture of Roy Halladay the pitcher and Roy Halladay the man.
“He was the best pitcher of that time period and that era,” Carpenter said. “That’s the reason why he is in the Hall of Fame.”
The highlights rolled: the first of Halladay’s two 10-inning complete games with the Blue Jays, the 2010 perfect game for the Phillies against the Florida Marlins and the no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds in his first postseason start a few months later.
When the video ended, it was time for Brandy Halladay to speak. The village of Cooperstown had already been kind to Brandy and her two sons, Braden and Ryan. The special week had included hugs from Hall of Famers and a joint celebration conducted by the Phillies and Blue Jays on Saturday night.
“Anybody who doesn’t think baseball is a family has never been involved with baseball,” Brandy said. “I know how honored Roy would be to be sitting here with such accomplished men who have represented this game so well over the course of all your careers.”
The support this weekend for Brandy and her sons was astounding.
“Roy had these collector cars and Reggie Jackson is a car guy,” Brandy said after her speech. “And so I was talking to Reggie and I said, ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do.’ He said, ‘Well, I’ll come over.’ Now, I get to have Reggie Jackson come over and help me with my cars. Who gets to say that? I think I’m just more currently aware of how lucky we are. These guys are unbelievable. Rod Carew asked me for my autograph. I’m like, ‘Are you serious?’ He said, ‘Yes, I’m serious.’ What do you say to Rod Carew?”
When the 52 returning Hall of Famers and the six incoming members of the 2019 class were introduced to the crowd, only three of them received prolonged standing ovations. The first was Hank Aaron, who is 85 and needed the assistance of a cane and Jim Thome to make it onto the stage. Brandy Halladay and Mariano Rivera, the Yankees’ closer who was the class of 2019 headliner, received the same treatment from the crowd.
Now it was time for Brandy to speak, and she was still choked up from the highlight video tribute from Carpenter. This time, the applause from the crowd was mostly polite until every Hall of Famer on the stage behind her stood and applauded. The crowd took the cue, and Brandy Halladay was soon receiving a second standing ovation.
“I knew I was going to cry at some point,” she said. “I never know what’s going to get me and that video, I couldn’t watch it, so if someone could send me a copy of that I’d appreciate it.”
Perhaps it was fitting that Brandy Halladay broke down early, then rebounded to give a Hall of Fame speech about her Hall of Fame husband. That’s how Roy Halladay’s career went, too.
“This is not my speech to give, but I’m going to do the best I can to say the things I believe Roy might have wanted to say if he was here today,” Brandy said. “The thanks yous could and should go on for days when you consider the impact so many people have had on Roy’s career.
“To both of the teams we were blessed to be a part of — the Blue Jays and the Phillies — thank you for allowing us to grow up and to fail over and over and finally to learn how to succeed with your organizations. There were some really amazing years, but there were some really tough ones, too, and you never gave up on him. When Braden and Ryan and I decided that Roy would be inducted into the Hall of Fame with no logo on his hat, both teams quickly reached out to tell us how proud they were of our decision. That validated a choice that we knew in our hearts was in fact the correct one. We want both organizations to know that they hold a huge place in our heart and they always will.”
Near the end of her seven-minute speech, Brandy Halladay delivered a message about perfection, but it had nothing to do with her husband’s perfect game.
“I think that Roy would want everyone to know that people aren’t perfect,” she said. “We are all imperfect or flawed in one way or another. We all struggle, but with hard work, humility and dedication, imperfect people can still have perfect moments.”
Brandy Halladay’s relief appearance for her late husband Sunday was one of those moments.