Roy Halladay gained fame wearing a Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies baseball uniform, but in these parts he looked very familiar in purple-shaded Arvada West baseball garb. The late …
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Roy Halladay gained fame wearing a Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies baseball uniform, but in these parts he looked very familiar in purple-shaded Arvada West baseball garb.
The late Halladay was a dominating pitcher for the Wildcats, then pitched for 16 seasons in the major leagues and on Jan. 22 was elected into Baseball’s Hall of Fame with 85.4 percent of the vote, with 75 percent needed for election, on the first time his name was on the ballot.
The two-time Cy Young winner died at the age of 40 when the light aircraft he was flying crashed into the Gulf of Mexico in November 2017. The Hall of Fame ceremonies are set for July 21 in Cooperstown, New York, and he will join Goose Gossage, a member of the 2008 class, as the other Coloradan in the Hall of Fame.
Jim Capra was Halladay’s coach at Arvada West and keeps having to answer the question if he sensed he was coaching a potential Hall of Famer when Halladay played for the Wildcats between 1992-95.
“Everybody asks that question, but at the time as he progressed through high school you knew he was going to be pretty good,” said Capra. “Then when he was a first-round draft pick you knew he was going to be a major leaguer but who could estimate he would be a Hall of Famer?
“He was pretty coachable. He always wanted to get better. My big job was not to screw him up. It’s an honor and a privilege to be associated with him. He was pretty level-headed all the time. He was not full of himself and not arrogant.”
In fact, Halladay could be a prankster at times.
“Roy came to practice one day with a cast on his arm,” recalled Capra. “He told everybody he fell down trying to dunk a basketball. He got our trainers to put a full type cast on his arm.
“Everybody was panicking. At the end of practice he cut it off. We always told kids not to play basketball because they were going to get hurt so he comes to practice with a cast on. He played on the varsity basketball team. He was a heck of a basketball player.”
Halladay was 26-2 in three seasons at Arvada West and the Wildcats were state champions in 1994 and runners-up the next season.
Ralston Valley baseball coach Brad Madden was a teammate of Halladay’s and friend.
“He was just one of the guys,” said Madden. “His seriousness was dedicated when he was on the mound. When he played first or got to DH that’s when he was just part of the squad and got to let loose a little bit. He had great sense of humor, and like everyone says he was hardest worker and loved being part of it, and that’s why he did basketball and ran cross country.
“He liked being a part of a team atmosphere. He ran cross country just to stay in shape and then he became pretty good at it. Everything he did he was good at. He never ceased to amaze us. He could have competed in football but he didn’t want to get hurt.”
Halladay and Madden played together with mostly the same group of players from little league to high school.
“We had been together a long time and we all played for each other,” added Madden. “When he got on the hill he gave you a sense of relief, actually, because every game he pitched you had a better than good chance of winning, so we kind of went out and ripped and that’s why we had so much success at A West when he was there.
“He kind of put you at ease. For me playing shortstop it was kind of boring because no right-hander could ever pull him. They would hit it to the other side because they could never get around it. He made my life a lot easier at shortstop. He was dominating from about 10 years old. When he joined our Little League team that was the end of my pitching career.”
Madden got a chance to hit against Halladay once in a while.
“When we would scrimmage and stuff,” he explained. “Everybody talked about his fastball in high school and he had a dominating fastball. But he would kind of give you that little smirk when he had that knuckle curve coming. At that age, that knuckle curve he threw was pretty scary.”
Halladay was the 17th overall pick in the 1995 MLB draft. He had a career 203-105 record with a 3.38 earned run average, with 2,117 strikeouts in 2,749.1 innings pitched.
He tossed a perfect game for the Phillies on May 29, 2010, and followed with a post-season no-hitter on Oct. 6, 2010, against Cincinnati in a National League Division series.
Halladay’s wife, Brandy, expressed thanks for herself and sons Braden and Ryan to the baseball writers for the overwhelming support in the Hall of Fame vote, and released the following statement.
“Being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame is every boy’s dream,” she wrote. “To stand on that stage in Cooperstown and deliver your acceptance speech in front of baseball’s most enthusiastic fans is something every baseball player aspires to achieve, and Roy was no exception. But that was not Roy’s goal. His goal was to be successful every day of his 16-year career. Tonight’s announcement is the end result of that effort. If only Roy were here to personally express his gratitude for this honor, what an ever more amazing day this would be.”
Jim Benton is a sports writer for Colorado Community Media. He has been covering sports in the Denver area since 1968. He can be reached at email@example.com or at 303-566-4083.
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