Brandy Halladay, the widow of Hall of Fame pitcher Roy Halladay, announced Wednesday her family’s decision to have Roy’s bust in Cooperstown feature a blank cap, representing neither the Toronto Blue Jays nor the Philadelphia Phillies. The Halladays figure this way Roy can represent “something to all of baseball,” and not just fans of one team or the other.
While that decision will be disappointing for fans of the Blue Jays and Phillies, it’s a reasonable one to make, and for the rest of us should be a perfectly satisfactory stand-in for the wishes of the man himself. After all, who knew Halladay better than his own wife and children? That is, other than uhh Inquirer columnist Bob Ford, who acknowledges Brandy’s statement but spends the rest of the 800 or so words of this batshit column following his gut in several bad and dumb directions:
Roy Halladay was a gracious man. He wouldn’t want to insult the Toronto Blue Jays. But, in my heart, having been around him, I believe he would want his Hall of Fame plaque to portray that grim, unflinching stare that batters knew so well. And, above the brim that shaded his eyes, I think he would want a “P.”
Ford’s reasoning is based mostly on his own assertion that five playoff starts in Philadelphia were more meaningful to Halladay than the 11 full seasons he spent playing for the Blue Jays. In support of this assertion, Ford imagines up a scenario where Halladay is allowed to relive a moment from his career, and then positions this wildly uncomfortable hypothetical as the primary criterion that Halladay would’ve used to choose which team to represent in the Hall. It’s all very presumptuous and gross:
Halladay was never more engaged as a player, never more fully alive in a moment, than during the final act of his first playoff start, as he stared in at Brandon Phillips of Cincinnati, already ahead 0-2 in the count, one pitch away from recording just the second no-hitter in postseason history.
Halladay wouldn’t have gotten [into the Hall of Fame] without the 148 games he won for the Blue Jays, but if he were with us today and given the chance to relive one of his 395 career starts, the choice would be easy. Halladay would pick one of the five he started for the Phillies in the postseason. It wouldn’t even need to be one of the three wins. The winning and losing were up to the cards that evening. Just put him on the mound in that situation, with that chance to try.
The rest of Ford’s case is just as flimsy and unsupported, and amounts to a flat assertion that though Halladay was a part of the Blue Jays organization for 15 years after they drafted him out of high school, the team deserves minimal credit for helping him reach his potential as a pitcher. And since therefore neither team can take much credit for giving Halladay anything by way of development, the five playoff starts Halladay made for the Phillies are clearly the most valuable thing he took from either organization. This, of course, is positioned as something the Phillies gave Halladay, while the Blue Jays, on the other hand, simply let him down.
Let’s take a moment, while we’re here, to appreciate Ford’s kicker, in which he positions himself as the True Knower of Roy Halladay’s heart:
It was Halladay who made the numbers, not the other way around. He made them before the sun came up at the Carpenter Complex, and he made them by studying hitters like a scientist, and by focusing so hard on each pitch that his face became a mask of steely concentration.
I know what I see above that face, above those narrowed eyes shielded by the brim. I know what Roy Halladay saw up there, too.
I know what Roy Halladay saw up there, too. Yuck. Hey, here’s something else Ford would’ve known, if he’d done ten seconds of remotely thorough googling: Halladay answered this exact question during his lifetime, post-retirement. It should not surprise you to learn that Ford’s got it exactly backwards.
“I’d go as a Blue Jay,” said Halladay, in town Sunday with several other legendary Jays pitchers as part of the 40th anniversary celebration of the franchise’s best players.