Halladay tributes paint portrait of a life well lived: Griffin

CLEARWATER, FLA. — The measure of a man and the impact he has on others lies in those who celebrate his life at the moment of his passing. Such was the case for former Blue Jays and Phillies pitcher, and future hall of famer, Roy Halladay as about 1,000 baseball friends, family, fans and admirers gathered at Spectrum Field on Tuesday to pay tribute — along with wife Brandy and sons Braden and Ryan.

The numbers 32 and 34 were painted in the dirt on the front of the mound, with a game ball set between them, representing Halladay’s uniform numbers with the Jays for 12 years and the Phillies for four. Behind the mound, a podium was set up flanked by floral displays of his uniform numbers, plus portraits of Doc as a Phillie and a Blue Jay set up on easels. In front of the mound were 100 white chairs that were eventually filled by ex-teammates, coaches, close friends and family.

Guest speakers — all personally invited by Brandy Halladay — included Phillies owner John Middleton and former manager Charlie Manuel; former Phillies teammates Cole Hamels and Chase Utley; ex-Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi; Jays head trainer George Poulis; former Jays teammate and good friend Chris Carpenter; and Roy’s father, Roy Jr.

Also in the seats to honour their friend were former teammates and men who shared the same clubhouse: Jose Bautista, A.J. Burnett, Cito Gaston, Frank Thomas, Jimmy Rollins, Juan Samuel, Brad Lidge, Shane Victorino, Erik Kratz, Aaron Hill, Orlando Hudson, Scott Downs, John McDonald, Reed Johnson, Dustin McGowan, Ryan Howard, Cliff Lee, Kyle Kendrick and many others.

After all was said and done on this emotional day, there were two main take-aways from this celebration of Halladay’s life.

The first was the passionate speech by Brandy Halladay that wrapped up the proceedings. She was vulnerable. She was unsure of her ability to cope with her new life without her husband. She had a dozen pages written out, but most of it was cast to the wind as she melted down throughout an honest, and ultimately loving, assessment of being the wife of a famous major-leaguer with what seems the sole raison d’être to keep the family running.

“I’ve literally been standing next to a man for 21 years that people could not take their eyes off of,” Brandy said. “He was beautiful inside and out. He always had the right thing to say. When he would speak, people listened.

“I have heard that Roy had a lot of professional accomplishments. I guess he was a pretty good baseball player. I remember some of that. I remember watching him dominate, but I don’t remember stats, numbers, even dates of so many of the important things that he did.