For 11 seasons, Roy Halladay wore the powder blue, black, white and red-clad jerseys.
Toronto was where it all started. It was where he became “Doc,” a Cy Young award winner and the master of the cutter.
Toronto is the place where Roy Halladay became the best pitcher in Major League baseball. He was the biggest athlete in their city with the hometown favorite Maple Leafs lacking a star and the Raptors being a total afterthought.
That is why before yesterday’s Phillies/Blue Jays game in Toronto that Halladay walked the line up card out to home plate and was greeted with a standing ovation. With a rare smile on his serious face, Halladay tipped his cap to the hometown fans in a sign of gratitude.
For Halladay, it had to be weird. Never in his career had he gotten dressed in the visitor’s clubhouse at the Rogers Centre, sat in the visitor’s dugout and left the stadium on a bus and not his car.
The emotion Halladay saw yesterday was the hurt that was left when the Jays front office traded Halladay to a contender. Parting with the one savior of the organization was the hardest thing for Toronto to cope with and it left a fan base in tears.
For over a year and a half, Blue Jays fans were left sobbing into their powder blue Halladay jerseys while looking at the poster on the wall, much like the David Beckham-to-America commercial years ago.
Yes, Toronto, you said “goodbye” and we said “hello.” Phillies fans embraced Doc with the same passion Blue Jays fans had for the past decade. We knew how much Halladay meant to Toronto and in a couple starts, he meant the world to us.
May 29, 2010 was one of the greatest moments in Phillies history. 27 Marlins walked up to the plate and Doc, with his six shooter, shot them all down to become the 20th pitcher in major league history to throw a perfect game.
As the season went on, Doc worked his way through each National League team, firing away with his cutter and winning 21 games. But the ultimate prize won last season was his second career Cy Young award and first of soon to be many in Philadelphia.
This season, Doc is already at 10 wins and is seeking his 11th against his former team. Regardless of the outcome, Toronto fans will be on their feet once again for Halladay before, during and even after he exits.
Doc, the fans of Toronto welcome you home. Now let’s show them what they’ve been missing.