Durant: Halladay transformed a few of us into Phillies fans

 RHP Roy HHalladay on his return to the Rogers Centre. Photo: Durant Studios. 

RHP Roy HHalladay on his return to the Rogers Centre. Photo: Durant Studios. 

By Erin Durant
Canadian Baseball Network

OTTAWA _ My assistant came to give me a hug Wednesday morning at our Queen Street office. She knows me better than most.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only ball fan in Canada who had a rough Tuesday night after hearing of the loss of Roy Halladay.

I needed to do some writing and sent my thoughts to Bob Elliott for no other reason but to get them off my chest. He encouraged me to publish them, so here they are:
 
I was seven years old when the Blue Jays won the World Series in 1993. I barely remember it other than that I was obsessed with Roberto Alomar. Halladay pitched for the Blue Jays from when I was 12 years old until I was 23. 

This happens to correspond with when I quit being a competitive figure skater and focused my sporting career on softball. I wonder if the two were connected. I essentially grew up as a ball fan watching Halladay. I loved when he pitched against the New York Yankees or the Boston Red Sox. I knew the Blue Jays would win. 

I remember watching Halladay pitch complete games, losing and wanting nothing more but to break my television. 

By 2009, I knew he was too good for the Blue Jays to keep. I was ready to have him move on. I was so happy when he went to the Philadelphia Phillies for no other reason than that he wouldn’t spend the rest of his career defeating the Blue Jays in the American League East. I wanted him to win. And he did. 

I was also happy for Doc when he retired. He even did that right – at a young age while still a respectable pitcher. His kids were young enough for him to coach their youth teams. At the time, I thought it was a bit early. Now,  I am happy he retired when he did so that he had the last four years to spend with his family. I cannot imagine how heartbroken they are and how the young boys that he coached must feel. 
 
My husband, catcher and outfielder, Bradley Pender (Cobden, Ont.) is an accomplished baseball player for the Ottawa-Nepean Canadians and the Trois-Rivière Saints of the Canadian Baseball League. I am a national medalist in softball. We have experienced the excitement of victory and the awful pangs of defeat. Yet, Tuesday afternoon was a different type of loss. The loss of an idol. I cried for an hour.  He drank. 

 Erin Durant and Brad Pender went to see Halladay pitch in Philadelphia too.

Erin Durant and Brad Pender went to see Halladay pitch in Philadelphia too.

Turns out, we only saw him play in person twice together. The above picture lives in my office. It was taken on June 25, 2010 when we went to see Halladay’s first game against the Blue Jays in Philly. This was our first road trip as a new couple. Halladay pitched seven scoreless innings and the Blue Jays lost 9-0. We sat on the very last row of the 500 level against a chain link fence. Today I looked everywhere to find the picture we took at the time against the chain link fence. I had never been happier to see the Blue Jays lose. 

I had forgotten until today, but the second Doc game we attended together was in July 2011 when he faced the Blue Jays in Toronto.  He went nine innings with eight strike outs, one walk, for a 5-3 win. We took the train home with loads of Blue Jays fans celebrating Doc’s performance in a Phillies uniform. We were happy for him. 

 And Brad and Erin also watched from the back row ... in the Bob Uecker seats,

And Brad and Erin also watched from the back row ... in the Bob Uecker seats,

Today we are sad. We are sad for ourselves as fans. However, we are devastated for his family, the boys he coached, his friends and his former teammates. 

Thanks for the memories Doc.