Cole Hamels and his wife, Heidi, drove to Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday night through a cold, rain storm. The former Phillies pitcher, who still lives in Delaware County, had a message to deliver.
“This is from all of us,” Hamels said as he began to remember Roy Halladay. “What he meant and what he still will mean to us. It’s very, very unfortunate and I know these things do happen but you don’t know how you’re going to feel in those moments, especially for someone that touched my life, my teammate’s life, the fans, the city. He’s a tremendous person that’s going to be missed.”
Hamels spoke just two hours after a Florida sheriff announced that Halladay had died when the former Phillies pitcher crashed his plane into the Gulf of Mexico. Halladay began flying planes after his playing career, which will eventually be enshrined in the Hall of Fame, ended in 2013.
“He has left such an impression. Not only to me, but to a lot of us, and a lot of the kids coming up in this game today,” Hamels said. “A lot of us grew up watching Roy Halladay play. I was fortunate enough to be able to sit in the dugout and share a locker with him for some of the best years that I’ve had. He’s really given me such, a way to perceive and look at baseball and to try to improve and be the best at I do.”
Hamels and Halladay spent four seasons together. Hamels followed Halladay’s 2010 postseason no-hitter four days later with a shutout and nine strikeouts to sweep the Reds. Hamels remembered when people said the Phillies would never have a strong pitching staff because of their ballpark. That all changed, Hamels said, when Halladay arrived.
“He was a man of few words. But you just sat back and you watched him, and you watched what he did,” Hamels said. “His work ethic was second to none. I mean, you couldn’t beat him to the ballpark. And if you did, you were going to lose from there on out. And that was so impressive to see. I think it’s left a lasting impression with the Phillies and the organization and I know with those guys that are here today and are in the minor leagues. He definitely set the bar. And that’s what I try to instill where I am in Texas. What Roy Halladay did for me.”
And the message he delivered, Hamels said, was from everyone.
“He really does mean a lot to all of us,” Hamels said. “We’re really, really going to miss him.”