I was born in 1996. I wasn't around in 1992 when the Blue Jays won it all, or in 1993 when they went back to back, and I definitely wasn't alive in 1987 when George Bell won the franchise's first MVP award. Basically, most of my time as a Blue Jays fan has been heartbreaking and disappointing. There was always one shining light for me as a kid though, and his name was Roy "Doc" Halladay.
Doc started his MLB career about as incredible as anyone could. In just his second career start, he took a no-hitter all the way to the ninth with two outs. I'd be lying if I said that at two years old, I remember any of this start, but for any fan that was lucky enough to witness it, you knew this would be the start of something special.
For me, my Roy Halladay memories begin from the 2002 season onwards. The Jays were never good, finishing at least ten games back of a playoff spot every single year that Doc was here. For a young kid like me, none of that mattered, because even at six years old I knew I was witnessing something special.
I never knew what the playoffs felt like, so I just looked at losing as a normal everyday thing. Things were different on days that Halladay was on the mound though. My parents did everything they could to get us to as many of Roy Halladay's starts as we possibly could (keeping in mind that tickets costed less than half the price of a beer today), and young me was in awe every single time.
I've always been a difficult kid, so Doc was never truly my favourite Blue Jay of all time. It wasn't because he wasn't far and away the best player on the team, but for me, it was too obvious to pick the best player in franchise history to cheer for. I was the kid sitting up in row 17 of the 500 level screaming "ORLANDOOOOOO HUDDDDDSSONNNNNN" with the announcers, while Doc put the team on his back.
He was never as flashy as his teammates, he never did anything wrong, and he quietly dominated the AL east every single day. The Jays have had many faces of the franchise over the years, but none of them have been quite like Doc. Robbie Alomar, Vernon Wells, Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson, Marcus Stroman... all incredible at what they did, but very similar in nature. People loved them for their flash and their tenacity against other players. Doc was never like that.
Almost stoic in nature, he would step on the mound, dominate, and step back into the dugout without making a peep. He was a pro's pro, and any of his teammates will tell you the same thing. Since his death you've heard all kinds of stories about the type of guy Roy was on and off the field. One of the most telling came just this week from former Blue Jay AJ Burnett. While speaking on Tim & Sid, AJ brought up a time where they were both going for 20 wins in 2008.
Doc managed to get his 20th, while AJ didn't quite make it, finishing the year with 18. But it was the moment they shared just minutes after that win, where AJ said "he just looked straight at me and said 'man you shoulda got 20' [...] that's doc , he didn't think about what he just did, he was thinking about somebody else"
That narrative has been repeated by just about anyone that ever played with him. He was a role model not only for the young Blue Jays fans like myself, but also for the 17 year vets like AJ Burnett.
With the Halladay family announcing that it's their wish to have Roy go into the hall of fame without a team I can't lie and say it doesn't sting a little bit. Roy Halladay will always be one of, if not the best Toronto Blue Jays to ever play the game. He was the only reason my family went to games throughout my entire childhood, and the only reason I remained a Jays fan for the two incredible playoff runs that they've had since.
So yeah, it sucks that he won't be the second player to go in wearing a Blue Jays cap; but if you knew anything about Roy, then you'd know he wouldn't care either way. Somewhere up there he's smiling looking at all the people like me that he inspired along the way in both Toronto and Philadelphia, knowing he left a mark on this game that will be tough to replicate.