Pair of Blue Jays legends honoured in Philadelphia
By Cameron Black-Araujo
Canadian Baseball Network
PHILADELPHIA _ While Roy Halladay only spent four seasons in Philadelphia compared to Pat Gillick's 13 and counting, they will both be remembered in the City of Brotherly Love for their accomplishments alongside one of the best core groups of players in Phillies' history.
It was Halladay’s National League Cy Young, perfect game and playoff no-hitter while for Gillick it was his 2008 World Series that headline their resumes as they both entered the Toyota Phillies Wall of Fame prior to the Phillies hosting the Marlins Saturday night.
Halladay and Gillick find themselves with a special place at the Rogers Centre, as well. Both in the Level of Excellence as well as special banners hanging from the centre field rafters (Halladay’s retired number No. 32 and Gillick’s Hall of Fame induction in 2011). They again find themselves honoured together in Philadelphia and some day in the near future they may be reunited again in a place far more special than Toronto and Philadelphia … Cooperstown.
Halladay becomes eligible for a spot in the National Baseball Hall of Fame next year and Sports Illustrated predicts he will receive 75% of the votes needed to enter the hall, the highest honour in the sport.
Halladay’s first two years in Philly became arguably his best two-year stretch in the majors, winning the Cy Young in his first year and finishing second the year after, despite having a better WAR than the winner, Clayton Kershaw, and finishing higher than him in NL MVP voting.
Those same two seasons would be Halladay’s only opportunity to pitch in the postseason, which saw him toss a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds in his first career playoff start. His wife, Brandy, remains grateful for moments like that and the opportunity in Philadelphia.
“I truly feel like I’m still watching it happen, it was so exciting, the energy you feel here,” said Brandy to reporters during the first inning. Brandy was accompanied by her two sons, Braden and Ryan. “There are very few people in the world that get to feel what he felt in the clubhouse here in Philly.”
Halladay had 40 wins during that two-year stretch to go along with his career bests in ERA and strikeouts (in a season with at least 20 starts) the first season pitching to a 2.44 mark, while fanning 219. And then he broke it again the second season with an ERA of 2.35 and 220 strikeouts.
His illustrious career eventually came to a close in December 2013 when he signed a one-day contract with Toronto to retire as a blue bird.
“I felt this is a great time for me to get back involved and help my kids. They’re starting to strive for their dreams and that’s something I want to be part of, so I’m looking forward to that,” said Halladay as he announced his retirement.
Halladay died on Nov. 7, 2017 in a tragic plane accident while flying over the Gulf of Mexico, something he loved to do.
While Halladay was busy hammering out career highs and accolades in Philly, Gillick was busy doing what he does best, assembling teams built to compete for titles. Since he joined the team in 2006 as general manager, he improved the teams record each year without seeing a losing season and improved the club’s attendance each year, up by about 700,000 per season from his first year to his last as GM.
His final season as GM came after his club captured that 2008 World Series but he continued working in the Phillies front office with a short stint as team president in 2015. He now serves as a senior advisor to the president and general manager, as well being a minority owner.
Jayson Werth, who was a part of the Phillies 2008 World Series squad, put a lot of that team’s success on Gillick’s shoulders.
“He kind of put this team together, he hand-picked this team,” explained Werth, who Gillick drafted in the first round (22nd over-all) while he was GM of the Baltimore Orioles in 1997 and signed him to a free-agent contract in Philadelphia in 2006. “He was here for a short time [as GM], so I think he was very instrumental and I think he had a lot to do with the success of the organization.”
It was a fitting night to celebrate these two men on the same weekend the organization also celebrated their biggest achievement in recent memory, their 2008 World Series Championship.
Like the old saying goes, “quality not quantity,” and that perfectly describes Halladay’s time in a Phillies uniform and Gillick’s time as GM.
They didn’t need long to win over Phillies fans and for that they will forever be remembered at Citizens Bank Park with their place in the Toyota Phillies Wall of Fame.