COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — She battled through the tears and fought her way past the internal struggle. Just like her late husband and now baseball hall of famer, Roy Halladay would have wanted her to do.
Brandy Halladay was composed, though grateful and humbled and doing her best to reflect her husband’s views on the baseball world and the honour family, friends and teammates sadly had to celebrate posthumously.
And then, to end her four-minute Baseball Hall of Fame acceptance speech on a sizzling Sunday summer afternoon in upstate New York, the widow may have profoundly and accurately summed up what defined her late husband in life and in death.
“I think that Roy would want everyone to know that people are not perfect,” Brandy Halladay said, a point she would elaborate on further after the ceremony ended. “We are all imperfect and flawed in one way or another. We all struggle. But with hard work, humility and dedication, imperfect people can still have perfect moments.
“Roy was blessed in his life and his career to have some perfect moments. But I believe that they were only possible because of the man that he strived to be, the teammate that he was and the people he was so blessed to be on the field with.”
With that, Roy Halladay became a member of the 2019 class in the baseball hall and among the 329 members he would be so proud to be enshrined alongside.
Indeed, his inspiringly strong wife was overwhelmed at the company behind her on the stage at the Clark Sports Center, 55 hall of fame members on hand to join in the celebration.
They stood as one in an ovation for the man called Doc as his wife looked at the glistening Hall of Fame plaque, wiping away tears. And then Brandy Halladay determinedly spoke to her husband’s character.
At a reception honouring Halladay here on Saturday, a member of the Jays family told us that the family wasn’t pleased that a Sports Illustrated story this past week which revealed Roy Halladay battled addiction issues prior to the fatal crash of his sport plane in November, 2017.
There is no disputing the facts that there were some demons in Halladay’s life, a reality Brandy Halladay eloquently discussed on a day that had to be excruciating for her family, both blood and baseball.
After the speeches of all six inductees were done — the class includes the great Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera, Mike Mussina, Edgar Martinez, Lee Smith and Harold Baines — Brandy elaborated on some of the inner struggles her husband and others face in the game.
“These men up there doing these outstanding things, they’re still real people,” Halladay said, with her son Braden at her side. “They still have feelings, they still have families, they still struggle. So many of the guys I’ve known in my life through baseball, they work so hard to hide them. I know Roy did and Roy struggled a lot.
“Sometimes its hard to present the image you know everyone wants to see. It’s also hard to be judged by the image people expect of you. It’s a perception and it’s an ideal that think is important we don’t sensationalize and idealize what a baseball player is, but look at the man and the human who is doing such an amazing thing.”
Halladay related a poignant story of how that drive Roy showed on the baseball diamond throughout his career didn’t come so easily in his home life. As much as Roy loved couching his sons Braden and Ryan, who were both here for the festivities, it also ate him up at times.
“He was a great coach and a nervous husband and father only because he so desperately wanted to be as great and successful at home as he was in baseball,” Halladay said.
“I think Roy would rather be remembered by who he was, not what he did on the ball field. He was a very private person, quiet and introverted but he was also very kind and caring.”
He was also respectful of the work it took to put in to become great, dedicated to refining his craft, even if it meant an excruciating rebuild of his throwing motion early in his career with the Jays.
While not always the most verbose star — he preferred to deflect recognition — Brandy Halladay offered further insight into the man behind that mask. In crafting the speech she always knew would be difficult, she attempted to venture into difficult territory and talk about what she believed would be important to her husband.
“This is not my speech to give,” she began. “I’m going to do the best I can to say the things I believe Roy might have wanted to say if he was here today.
“Scouts, coaches, mentors, teammates, there are not enough words to thank you for your friendship, your support, your tutelage.
“Roy’s natural talent was obviously a huge part of this, but without his unconditional support from every one of you, he couldn’t have dedicated himself with being the best ballplayer he could be.”
That dedication came with a price too difficult to judge. But it also was so impressive that it was meant to be celebrated. In telling us how and why it should be done, Brandy Halladay did her husband proud.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019