It is hard to believe that it has been five years since Roy Halladay died in that plane crash. Few deaths have affected me as much. Talking about another friend who died a few years ago, a friend said, ‘time flies when you are dead.’ It does.
We know more about what Halladay went through after his retirement. The documentary, Imperfect was hard to watch. I wanted to keep the feeling that he was enjoying retirement. And Todd Zolecki’s book Doc: The life of Roy Halladay underlined his pain. If you haven’t read the book, I do recommend it.
Roy pushed himself to be the very best. There are stories of him working out at 5 in the morning. There are stories of him being on holiday and still up at 5 to get a workout. The work ethic is admirable, but maybe pushing your body to the very edge is hard on it in the long term.
I sometimes wonder if athletes' push to get as strong and fit as possible causes their bodies to break down young. I mean, eating and drinking and being overweight isn’t good, but it might be best if ballplayers don’t work out to the edge of what they can do. In my lifetime, baseball players have gone from “I ain’t no athlete, I’m a baseball player” to being muscular enough to be photographed for the cover of bodybuilding magazines. But, unfortunately, maybe some have taken it a half step too far.
Doc seemed only to have baseball in his life. It might have been healthier for him to have had other interests and maybe not push himself quite so hard to be perfect. But then he wouldn’t have been the player we loved. If we could go back and tell him, “we would be happy with 95% of perfect.” Yeah, I know. He wouldn’t have changed a thing.
But I digress....
Halladay was the best part of those Blue Jays teams. He was the guy whose start I didn’t want to miss. I wanted to see every pitch.
He was intense and a perfectionist. He wanted to win every game. Of course, all players want to win every game, but Doc wanted to win every game. I can’t imagine he always enjoyed playing for Jays’ teams that needed him to be nearly perfect to get the win.
I’m glad he is in the Hall of Fame, and I’m pleased he is on the Level of Excellence. I wish he had been around to see it. But, I think the best part, if there was the best part of the days and weeks after his passing, was hearing his teammates talk about him. Hearing the stories of his fun side. Sadly, someone has to die before getting to hear all those stories. A friend of my wife, who had terminal cancer, had her ‘funeral’ before she passed, so she could hear her friends' love. I think it was an excellent idea.
I hope his wife and boys have found peace and remember the good times.