Remembering Doc: Roy Halladay's pal Isaac McFadyen
Isaac McFadyen, left brother Gabe and their pal the late Roy Halladay.
*With the late great Roy Halladay seemingly on the cusp of being elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, we wanted to take a look back at his Cooperstown-worthy career and what type of person he was. Halladay may have been all business on the field, but, as this story about his friendship with Isaac McFadyen that Canadian Baseball Network editor-in-chief Bob Elliott wrote back in 2009 attests, he had a kind and generous heart away from it.
Originally posted April 8, 2009
By Bob Elliott
Canadian Baseball Network
Roy Halladay has received and given a few high fives over his career. They usually come after pitching yet another complete game, a 10-inning shutout, receiving the Cy Young award or just maybe that two-hit night at Dodger Stadium in 2007.
They were accomplishments we have come to expect from the former first-round draft pick.
The high five Halladay received, as he leaned out of the third base dugout, extending his palm to his old pal Isaac McFadyen at 6:43 last night, was likely as satisfying as any he’s had in a Blue Jays uniform.
Halladay had not seen Issac since last season when Isaac visited Doc’s Box, a skybox where Halladay and his wife, Brandy, entertain children and their families.
The Jays ace was named the fifth annual George Gross/ Toronto Sun Sportsperson of the Year in December and before the Detroit Tigers played the Jays, editor-in-chief Lou Clancy presented Halladay a $1,000 cheque last night.
Halladay donated it to the Isaac Foundation ( theisaacfoundation.com) and then Halladay matched the offer himself.
“My wife Brandy and I believe in the Foundation,” Halladay said. “It hasn’t gotten a lot of support and there’s not a lot of awareness for the illness.”
Isaac was born 4 1/2 years ago. At 18 months, in November of 2005, he was diagnosed with Maroteaux-Lamy Syndrome, or MPS VI. The disease is caused by an enzyme deficiency which stunts growth and causes joints to stiffen and heart valves to fail.
“Without proper medicine his hands will (turn into a) claw and corneas will cloud,” said Isaac’s father Andrew McFadyen seated at the St. Louis Bar and Grill, across the street from the Rogers Centre.
“Isaac has already had an operation when his spinal cord compressed,” said McFadyen.
Isaac’s brother, Gabriel, three, shared the table — when not crawling under it.
Now, Isaac is taking the synthetic enzyme Nagalazyme, which costs between $350,000 and $1 million a year. While approved in the United States and the United Kingdom and by the Canadian government, the Ontario government initially refused to approve it.
“Christina Blizzard really fought for us, helping us get approval,” said McFadyen. “Only three people in Canada have this disease so there were not enough children to test. This is now our life boat.”
Later the gang — Isaac and Gabriel, with mother and father Ellen Buck-McFadyen and Andrew McFadyen, plus grand parents Paula and Wayne Buck plus Ellen Dabbs and friends — walked to the concrete building across the street and out onto the carpet.
Before the game a video was shown on the Jumbotron and Halladay scooped his pal Isaac up like a comebacker with men on first and second and pointed to centre. The two pals watched Isaac on the giant screen.
Halladay invites children from the Sick Kids Hospital once a month to his skybox, which is where Brandy and Roy met Isaac a few years back.
“We hope to have the box nine or 10 times this season,” said Halladay, who visited Sick Kids the day after the 2008 season ended. “We went into a few treatment rooms and would like to get more directly involved at the hospital.”
Singer John Mayer and Halladay are helping raising funds to MPS VI research.
“This allows us to make a difference,” McFadyen said. “Roy Halladay is respected in Toronto, in Ontario and across Canada. He’s a great father and a role model for kids across the country.”
Then the proud father told of how excited his son Isaac gets when he sees Halladay on TV.
McFadyen lives in Campbellford, Ont., and teaches grade 8 at Sir Winston Churchill Public School in Kingston — where I managed to pass both kindergarten (Miss Preston) and grade 8 (Mr. Joynt).
“I hope fans understand what a treasure they have in Halladay,” McFadyen said. “I know our family understands.”
After Isaac threw his Campbellford strike with the ceremonial first pitch he sprinted to Halladay and gave him another high five, which looked like it had the same force as the ones Brad Fullmer used to deliver after a home run.
Who is your favorite ball player Isaac?
“Roy Holl-A-DAY!” said Isaac with a big smile.
A lot of Jays fans would give the same answer.