CLEARWATER, Fla. — Two-time Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay was remembered Tuesday as an amazing husband, father, friend and teammate who was one of the best pitchers of his generation but an even better man.
A 91-minute “Celebration of Life for Roy Halladay” attracted more than 1,000 people to Spectrum Field, the spring training home of the Philadelphia Phillies, one of two franchises Halladay played for during a stellar 16-year career.
“The man made the ballplayer,” Phillies owner John Middleton said, “not the other way around,”
Halladay died Nov. 7 at age 40 when the private plane he was piloting crashed into the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida.
The eight-time All-Star who pitched a perfect game and a playoff no-hitter, Halladay played 12 seasons for the Toronto Blue Jays from 1998 to 2009 and four for the Phillies from 2009 to ’13, going 203-105 with a 3.38 career ERA.
The public memorial began with a video tribute and ended with Halladay’s wife, Brandy, standing on the mound and releasing butterflies from a container in a final “goodbye.”
“All eyes are on me,” the pitcher’s wife, the last of nine speakers, said from a rostrum perched behind the mound, flanked by pictures of Halladay with the Phillies and Blue Jays, along with floral arrangements bearing the 34 and 32 jersey numbers he wore.
“I’m really fortunate that I’ve gotten used to that feeling. I’ve literally been standing next to a man for 21 years that people could not take their eyes off of,” she said. “He was awe-striking. He was beautiful inside and out. Without saying a word, he seemed to always have just the right thing to say. When he did speak, people listened.”
Other speakers included Halladay’s dad, Roy Jr.; former teammates Cole Hamels, Chase Utley and Chris Carpenter; longtime baseball executive and former Blue Jays GM JP Ricciardi; ex-Phillies manager Charlie Manuel; and Blue Jays trainer George Poulis.
Hall of Famer Frank Thomas, former Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston and one-time teammates Cliff Lee and Jimmy Rollins were among other special guests, who accompanied the family onto the field for the service.