It was never Roy Halladay’s goal, his wife Brandy said Tuesday, to find himself one day standing behind a podium on a stage in Cooperstown, N.Y., and delivering an acceptance speech for baseball’s Hall of Fame. It was never Halladay’s goal, Brandy said, to be able to scribble “HOF” next to his signature.
“His goal was to be successful every single day of his 16-year career,” Brandy Halladay said.
It was that drive — Halladay’s obsession to compete at the highest level — that propelled Halladay from a major-league castoff to one of the premier pitcher of his generation. And it was what led to Tuesday night’s announcement that he is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Halladay, who spent the final four seasons of his career with the Phillies, is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and will be enshrined on July 21.
The announcement comes with the stark reminder that Halladay, who died in November of 2017 when a plane he was piloting crashed into the Gulf of Mexico, will not be able to revel in his induction. He is the first first-ballot Hall of Famer since Christy Mathewson in 1936′s inaugural class to be inducted posthumously.
“If only Roy were here to personally express his gratitude for this honor, what an even more amazing day this would be,” Brandy Halladay said. "I would like to extend special thanks to the baseball writers for the overwhelming percentage of votes that Roy received in his first year on the ballot. It means so much to me and my sons Braden and Ryan.”
» LOOKING BACK: Roy Halladay spent his final months teaching future Phillies
Halladay will be joined by Mariano Rivera, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Lee Smith, and Harold Baines. Smith and Baines were both elected in December by a separate committee.
Halladay was named on 85.4 percent of the ballots cast by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America. A player must receive more than 75 percent to be inducted to Cooperstown. Rivera was the first ever unanimous selection. Former Phillies Curt Schilling (60.9 percent) and Scott Rolen (17.2) missed the cut.
Halladay’s Hall of Fame career was nearly derailed in 2001 when Toronto dropped him to the minor leagues after Halladay was roughed up in the majors. Halladay’s wife Brandy gave him a book to read by sports psychologist Harvey Dorfman and Halladay credited The Mental ABC’s of Pitching for turning his career around.
“He completely reinvented himself in order to succeed at the major-league level and in a game of failure he didn’t lose much,” Cole Hamels said. “If you did beat him, he would make sure you never did again. There’s a part of him that I take with me every time I prepare for my games and step out onto that mound.”
He returned to the majors in 2002, won his first of two Cy Young awards in 2003, and became entrenched with the mental side of baseball. His first two seasons in Philadelphia were two of the most dominant years by a starting pitcher in franchise history. Halladay’s 2.35 ERA in 2011 is the sixth best by a Phillies pitcher since 1920. His ERA+, a stat that adjusts ERA for a pitcher’s ballpark, in 2010 and 2011 are the fourth- and fifth-best marks by a Phillies starter since 1920. He won the Cy Young Award in 2010 and finished second in 2011.
“One of the great pleasures of my career was being able to play behind a man like Roy Halladay,” Chase Utley said. “He was fierce. He was competitive. He was focused. But, most of all, he was great. Not just a great player but also a great teammate and a great friend. On the field, Roy wanted nothing more than to bring another championship to Philadelphia. Off the field, he wanted nothing more than to be the best husband and father he could be. He was someone I admired then and still do today.”
He retired with a 3.38 ERA and a 203-105 record over 16 seasons. He pitched at least 220 innings in eight of 10 seasons from 2002 to 2011. That was the prime stretch of Halladay’s career — he ranked first in wins, first in shutouts, fourth in strikeouts, fourth in ERA, and second in ERA+ over that span.
“When Roy decided to come to Philadelphia, it was for one reason, to win a championship, and we wanted nothing more than to share in that moment of glory with him,” Jimmy Rollins said. “Although we never accomplished that with him, it doesn’t take away from all that he was able to accomplish during his career. Anyone that has ever heard the name Roy Halladay wishes he were here for us all to celebrate this moment of greatness and give thanks for the many memories he gave us on the playing field but even more importantly the ones we all got to create when he took off his Superman cape, gave that big ol’ cheesy smile and made you feel like you had known him all your life.”
Halladay spent 12 seasons with Toronto, which will likely lead to him wearing a Blue Jays cap on his plaque. But Halladay’s defining moments — a perfect game, a postseason no-hitter, and finally competing in October — came in a Phillies uniform. Plus, Halladay stayed connected with the Phillies in his retirement. He was a guest instructor at spring training before taking a position in Clearwater, Fla., to teach the team’s minor-leaguers about mental skills.
Halladay may have pitched just four seasons with the Phillies, but his impact was large. It would still be a surprise for Halladay’s plaque to sport a Phillies cap, but perhaps his hat will be blank just like the ones worn by Greg Maddux, Catfish Hunter, and others.
The Phillies do not have immediate plans to retire Halladay’s No. 34, but the pitcher’s induction to Cooperstown does make it a possibility. It will be interesting to see what happens if the Phillies do sign Bryce Harper, who wore No. 34 during his seven seasons in Washington.
Andrew Knapp was the last Phillies player to wear No. 34 as he was randomly issued the number after he reached the majors in 2016. He called the Phillies after Halladay’s death and offered to give it up. Knapp had met Halladay in 2016 during the team’s prospect seminar and then again in spring training.