Thursday, September 18, 2014
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Roy Halladay, athlete whisperer?

Roy Halladay's foray into retirement has gone well, the pitcher said on Friday, before throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at Citizens Bank Park. But he could return to the game with a psychology degree and a plan to help fellow players achieve success from the neck up.

Roy Halladay, athlete whisperer?

Former Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay. (Steven M. Falk/Staff Photographer)
Former Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay. (Steven M. Falk/Staff Photographer)

Roy Halladay said he had butterflies about taking the field at Citizens Bank Park on Friday.

He was there to throw out the ceremonial first pitch to get Alumni Weekend started in South Philly. His former manager, Charlie Manuel, will be inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame on Saturday night.

But when the butterflies give way to adrenaline and Halladay tries to fire a strike, and then hears the ovation, he'll walk off the field and return to his new life. Halladay doesn't sound like he's finished with baseball, however.

The 37-year old former two-time Cy Young award winner said he's planning on going to college to pursue a psychology degree. Halladay's rise to becoming one of the best pitchers of his generation had a lot to do with his god-given talent, but it was also due in part to his commitment to "getting the most out of what (he) was given."

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After reaching the big leagues - and coming one out away from a no-hitter in his second caeer start - Halladay struggled mightily and found himself banished from the big leagues to Class A. It was there where he discovered the importance of the mental side of the game, using Harvey Dorfman's "The Mental ABC's of Pitching" as his own personal bible.

Halladay struck up a friendship with Dorfman and, when Dorfman passed away in the last few years, credited him for steering his career into the direction that led to success. Halladay would like to pay that forward.

"I don’t know if it’s my calling, but, I think thats it’s unique," Halladay said. "I had a chance to go through almost everything. You know, I’ve, from growing up, at times being pushed. Struggling, not just a little bit, but a lot. And then starting to understand what’s going on, starting to understand what Harvey’s talking about, and really just trying to moprh myself into what I was hearing, and what I was -  and I became that, I feel like I became that.

"So it’s unique to be able to go through all of those experiences you can have and come out on the other end with that knowledge. You know, I could pretty well regurgitate anything Harvey ever said. But there are special circumstances, which is why I’d like to go to college. i just think that’s something that I can offer back to baseball. And working with players, at all levels. Going home and just seeing what a mess youth baseball was was an eye-opener. I just want to make it a better game. And it’s been a lot of fun doing that already."

Halladay has already started working with players, from his two-week stay as a guest instructor in Phililes camp in spring training to his recent conversations with Phils pitching prospect Jesse Biddle. The 22-year-old Biddle took a mental break for six weeks this summer after struggling in the season's first three months and battling a crisis of confidence.

Biddle returned to the mound Wednesday and threw five no-hit innings at Class-A Clearwater.

"He’s a good kid," Halladay said. "It’s just exactly like me - exactly like me - you really talk about simplifying things, thats where they don't really get what that means. They think if they simplify and if I take away my slider and changeup - no. We’re talking about thinking about one pitch, and having that clam intense focus to do one thing and think about one thing only. And that's what we’ve been talking a lot about.

"I think he’s starting to get there. But it’s not something where you can read the book and do it, someone can’t tell you and do it, you really have to live it. It has to be something you have to try and live. He's doing better. I think he’s feeling better. But I think the hardest thing for people to realize is what they can and can’t control. I think they get caught up in that a lot. So, having him understand what’s in his control, I think has helped him."

 

 

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