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The baseball world lost one of its undisputed greats Tuesday when Roy Halladay, formerly of the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies, died after his amphibious plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico.
Over 16 mostly incredible MLB seasons, Halladay was a near-perfect model of pitching, longevity, professionalism and simple, unmistakable talent. The Blue Jays knew it when they drafted him 17th overall in 1995. They still knew it after he posted an anomalous 10.64 ERA in 2000 and the Phillies knew it when they traded for him in the winter of 2009.
Considered one of the greatest pitchers of this generation, it’s difficult to single out the best moments of Halladay’s storied career. With that said, here are five that will forever stand out.
Making an Impression Early in His Career
On the final day of the 1998 regular season, a rookie Halladay made the best possible audition for a permanent spot in the rotation.
Following a debut when he lasted just five innings against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and allowed three runs (two earned) on eight hits, Halladay flipped a switch in his next start, taking a no-hitter into the ninth against the Detroit Tigers before Bobby Higginson’s solo home run ended the bid with one out to go. The man who would come to be known as “Doc” was now well introduced to Blue Jays fans.
His First No-Hitter
Halladay would rebound from a disastrous 2000 season to become a mainstay in the Blue Jays’ rotation over the next nine seasons. With the franchise headed in a losing direction, Toronto begrudgingly agreed to ship Halladay to the contending Phillies, though he picked up right where he left off. On May 29, 2010, in just his 11th start with the Phillies, he retired all 27 Florida Marlins batters in order to record just the 20th perfect game in MLB history.
Though Halladay’s talent was never in doubt thanks to his incredible years in Toronto and a small, yet impressive sample size in Philadelphia, the world had yet to see if the tranquil right-hander could perform to the same standard in the postseason. After 12 long seasons, Halladay finally made his playoff debut on Oct. 6, 2010, and he shattered expectations. A walk to Jay Bruce was all that prevented Halladay from another perfect game, though the second no-hitter in postseason history is as great a consolation prize as there is.
The Prodigal Son Returns Home
The day after Canada Day 2011 marked Halladay’s second start versus his former club but the first was in Philadelphia. So, when the Blue Jays faithful finally got the chance to welcome him back, they made the most of the opportunity, showering him with a standing ovation for over a minute.
Halladay would return the love just over two years later, returning to Toronto to sign a one-day contract, officially retiring as a Blue Jay.
A Playoff duel to remember
With the Phillies’ and St. Louis Cardinals’ seasons on the line in Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS, it was two former Blue Jays teammates who stole the show. Halladay and Chris Carpenter squared off in one of the more memorable postseason pitching duels in recent memory, combining for 17 innings, 10 strikeouts, one walk, and just one earned run. Unfortunately for Halladay and the Phillies, Carpenter was unsolvable, tossing a complete-game shutout as the Cardinals held on for the slim 1-0 win to advance to the NLCS. Even in his losses, Halladay’s phenomenal ability was amazing, and you had to salute him.
Thanks for the memories Doc Halladay. You were class through and through.