CLEARWATER, Fla. — One of Roy Halladay’s toughest defeats as a pitcher was Oct. 7, 2011, the night the Phillies’ 102-win season collapsed in the NL Division Series because his best friend outdueled him. Halladay allowed one run. Chris Carpenter, the ace St. Louis righthander, allowed none.
Both pitchers were never the same after that night. Carpenter made just three starts in 2012, then retired because of repeated shoulder injuries. Halladay confronted his own shoulder woes and posted a 5.15 ERA in 38 starts from 2012-13 before his retirement.
But, before all of that and before their fateful encounter at Citizens Bank Park, the two former Toronto Blue Jays teammates had planned a fishing trip to Brazil. Carpenter recalled the dare issued by Halladay as he eulogized his friend Tuesday at Spectrum Field.
“I could talk to you about how he texted me after Game 5 in 2011, while I was still on the bus and he was still sitting at his locker after pitching his heart out, to congratulate me. To wish me good luck the rest of the way,” Carpenter said. “And, of course, how he was looking forward to the trip to Brazil going fishing.
“Let’s talk about that trip. We never spoke about Game 5, except for the first night. I had to mention — I don’t think most people know — but I did get a hit off him that game. I had to mention it, just once. Then he told me to shut up. We all had a laugh and didn’t talk about it anymore. We just wanted to get away from all that and relax.
“He was never afraid of a challenge or doing something that others might not want to do. Or dare do. Like one of the days we went fishing, it was 100 degrees out, and he wanted to jump in the Amazon River. Remember now, we’re in the jungle. The water is as clear as a cup of coffee. And we’ve been catching piranhas all day. I looked at him and said, ‘You’re freaking nuts.’ He said, ‘I know. Come on Carp, it’s wicked hot and I’m sweating like crazy. We can say that we swam in the Amazon River. Who do we know who could ever say that?’ OK, good point, let’s do it.
“He talked back and forth with our guide. They speak Portuguese. Doc was using Spanish words. [The guide] was using Portuguese words. It was free entertainment. Finally, they decide on a good place to swim. The guide stopped, looked at us, and said, ‘Swim.’ Before I knew it, Doc was belly-flopping into that coffee-colored water. He proceeded to backstroke around. I literally have video of this. I was like, ‘Dude, get back in the boat. You’re going to get eaten by something.’
“After I thought a little bit more, I jumped in. Before I could even hit the water, I was doggy-paddling in the air to get back out. We both go back in the boat, all cooled off, and feeling good. We cracked a beer and cheers’d to how stupid that was. But we were still pretty sure we wouldn’t meet anybody else in our lives who said they did that.”