The Toronto Blue Jays paid tribute to legend, the late Roy Halladay and it was perfect
The Legend of Blue Jays Halladay Continues. The Blue Jays retired Roy Halladay’s number at the club’s home opener against the New York Yankees in a truly moving ceremony that had both new and old fans emotional. There’s no crying in baseball….right?
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 29, 2018
Roy Halladay, the much beloved pitcher made his MLB debut with the Blue Jays on September 20th, 1998. The 8 x All Star, 2 x Cy Young winner, 2 x MLB wins leader, who also pitched a perfect game and a post season no-hitter, died tragically November 17, 2017 leading to an outpouring of love from fans. The Blue Jays organization chose the home opener to honour his life, place his name on the Level Of Excellence, and retire his number – the second number to be retired in the organization’s history. The only other banner being that of Robbie Alomar’s number 12.
It seems it is the second time the Blue Jays organization deserves props for a well done tribute. The organization had a beautiful set up just a few months ago at the first Blue Jays Winterfest in January.
I don't want to call it a 'highlight' but one of the best things I saw today was the memorial for Doc. It was really well set up, nice and quiet and they worked hard to keep it from getting too crowded.
They had his old locker there, which he had signed pic.twitter.com/hnDGafXgx2
— Emily- Happy Opening +1 Day! (@JaysGirlEmily) January 21, 2018
The pictures on the field, his number, the Halladays – Brandy, Braden and Ryan – walking in, is when the emotions hit. Doc, a nickname given to Halladay by the late Blue Jays broadcaster Tom Cheek, was honoured by friends, former coaches and teammates as they walked in to stand beside the Halladay family, including former manager Cito Gaston. Watching this was akin to watching family coming together in love and support.
The video board reminded fans of Doc’s accomplishments on and off the field, including a look at Doc’s Box, a program where the Halladay’s would rent a luxury box annually to host children from Sick Kids hospital. Built into his first contract, it was important to Roy and Brandy to give back to the community. The program grew to include families through Ronald McDonald Children’s Charities. Doc and Brandy along with their children have touched so many lives and it reminded fans of the hole Roy Halladay has left in more than the baseball community.
One of the most emotional moments came when Braden and Ryan walked toward the mound, covered in a black tarp with the number 32 on it. The mood in the Rogers Centre was subdued and almost reverent. Doc’s boys walking out to do the ceremonial first pitch was what fans had been asking for. Braden and Ryan approached the mound, a place where every fifth day their father had been so legendary and such a pleasure to watch. As they reached their destination, instead of throwing the ball, they gently set it down on the mound. And then there was silence. It was simply beautiful.
The tribute was fitting for such a beloved part of the Blue Jays family, a legend on the mound. Watching Braden Halladay pitch a lights out, 1-2-3 8th-inning against the Blue Jays for Canada’s junior team in spring training has many Blue Jays fans believing the legend of Doc will continue one day. In the meantime, Doc’s retired No. 32 bannner will fly and his name emblazoned on the Level Of Excellence will be there for all taking in a game to enjoy.
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Catherine Stem is a Blue Jays fan and writer who has combined both of these great things by writing for Jays From the Couch. Through all the ups and downs of baseball, all aspects of the game are explored. Keeping a close eye on the Blue Jays Triple A team, the Buffalo Bisons has also become part of her make-up.