The following is a heartfelt, first-hand remembrance of the late Roy Halladay by Phil Ross, author of the BLUE HOMBRES book trilogy:
For what it's worth, here's my two cents regarding an exemplary individual who was universally well-liked and respected by his peers and fans, but lost his life taking one final chance too many while enjoying a risky, albeit legitimate, pursuit that had become his passion. How many of us can say that?
Roy "Doc" Halladay, who died tragically at age 40 in a crash of his amphibious aircraft on a solo flight earlier this week, should be automatically inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on the first ballot in 2018. Even though he wasn't close to the traditionally accepted threshold of 300 career wins, he pitched a perfect game, was a multiple All-Star, a champion in both major leagues, and one of ONLY SIX pitchers in history to win the Cy Young Award in both leagues, in addition to setting sterling examples on and off the field.
My fond remembrances of Doc are based on my own personal path-crossings with him while he was a pitcher/first baseman and I was a college and high school umpire when he played at Colorado's Arvada West High from 1993-95.
I recall the first time I did a Wildcats game when he was a sophomore, playing first base that day, and I was the base umpire. In retrospect, not only was he the best player whom I officiated in a two-decade umpiring career but also the most polite. That day, I told Roy's head coach, Jim Capra, "Your first baseman is the politest kid I've ever had -- 'yes, sir; no, sir; please; thank you'." "Caps," an Edgewater-bred Italian-American Catholic who more recently has coached at Colorado's Adams State University, his alma mater, smiled, looked at me, and retorted simply, "Mormon." Which made sense, even though I'm not Mormon, since every LDS church member I've ever encountered was polite and respectful despite philosophical differences.
The following season, I was behind the plate when Roy pitched a no-hitter against A-West's weak-hitting arch-rivals, the Arvada High Reds. I didn't realize it at the time as I walked toward the parking lot afterward with my umpiring partner, but an excited man with a scorebook -- whom I assumed was official scorer -- exclaimed, "Do you know you just called a no-hitter?" When I saw the line score in the next day's Sports Section, I felt good.
When I heard of "Doc" Halladay's fatal crash the other day on the car radio, I couldn't hold back the tears. As Billy Joel sang, "Only the good die young."