blogging Phillies baseball and the home of Phillies Talk Podcast by Rich Baxter
blogging Phillies baseball and the home of Phillies Talk Podcast by Rich Baxter

“Doc: The Life Of Roy Halladay” by Todd Zolecki, a look at the new book

Probably the book of the summer you’ll want to pick up here. A story about Roy Halladay, from the beginning of his career to the bitter end of it in Miami for the Phillies, now an incredibly fast, seven years ago.

I was one of the many fans who really liked Roy Halladay when he signed with the Phillies. That era attracted a lot of big names that wanted to be on this team. They knew that greatness was all around them, and they wanted to be a part of it by signing with the Phillies. Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and other players were a group of players big named pitchers were attracted to.

One of the chapters in the new book on Roy Halladay by Todd Zolecki is entitled just that, ‘The Rotation.’ It chronicles the Phillies’ tremendous assembly of what on paper looked to be one of the best, if not best rotations that this team has ever had. I really love the chapter titles in this book, it breaks down everything so nicely. I’d like this review to be pages long by telling you all about the book, but I’ll just have to keep it short, and tell you, it’s an awesome book.

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Back to ‘The Rotation’, the exact memories of the assembling of the Phillies pitching staff that made me so giddy back then are starting to drift from my memory a little with what went on and who went where. The Phillies traded with the Indians for Cliff Lee in July of 2009 originally (though Roy Halladay really wanted to get traded to the Phillies at the same time, as you’ll read about his disappointment that it didn’t happen in the book), Lee and his wife quickly fell in love with the Philadelphia area. In getting Roy Halladay, in the 2009 to 2010 offseason on December 15, 2009, Lee was sent to Seattle for reasoning that the Phillies couldn’t sign both players. I was a Cliff Lee fan, I was happy to get Halladay but very sorry to see Cliff Lee go (Lee would spend 2010 with Seattle and then with Texas where Lee ended up going to he World Series in 2010 pitching for them), as he was a great pitcher himself. The Lees said they didn’t really want to leave Philly either. The Phillies had traded for another ‘ace’ in Roy Oswalt in July of 2010 as well.

Embed from Getty Images Halladay didn’t realize his dream of winning a World Series ring, but with his Perfect Game, and a no-hitter, gave Phillies fans a lot to be joyful about

You have to remember, the Phillies had just won the World Series in 2008, and made it to the ’09 World Series vs. the NY Yankees, this was a red hot baseball town, a lot of big names wanted to come here, with thoughts that maybe some sort of dynasty was building. After the 2010 season, the Phillies had a record 123 straight sell-outs at Citizens Bank Park. It really should have been a dynasty with the way the Phillies stockpiled ace pitchers around this time, you had the World Series MVP, Cole Hamels, already in place, add in Halladay, and then in 2011, Cliff Lee was back on the market as a free agent, the Rangers wanted to keep him, the Yankees were on the prowl for him, but he ends up signing a $120 million dollar deal (which was less money than both the Rangers and Yankee offered him but less time on the contract too) because he liked this city and the team. So you have the assembly of ‘The Rotation’ – such a magical time for the Phils and the fans, all these veterans in the same rotation but the magic of winning a ring just wasn’t meant to be for them.

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You get a lot of stories with this book, a story within a story so to speak. I like that, with watching baseball and enjoying it, there’s always the other side to that, the side that happens after the players go home and aren’t on the field. The trips that product endorsement companies put on for their stable of stars for example. There is a nice story about Jimmy Rollins and Halladay who met up before the two were teammates in Philly in an exotic setting of either Aruba, Hawaii, or Mexico, Rollins couldn’t remember the exact location of the posh Nike trips that they throw, where the two met up. He did remember how Halladay kept to a rigorous workout schedule there though, a time when most players just enjoy the free trappings of benefits that a sponsor like Nike offers on these trips.

Jumping back to the beginning of the book, you learn how Roy learned the benefits of the rigorous workouts, how his father essentially molded him to be a baseball player, and the people responsible with making Roy a superpowered pitcher who dominated in high school. Halladay’s work ethic, a thing that many people spoke of when he was on the Phillies rotation.

Another great story in Todd Zolecki’s book on Doc was how Halladay wanted to give a personal memento to his teammates after his perfect game. But Halladay wanted to share that special moment with so many more than just his teammates, Halladay talked with Frank Coppenbarger, then Phillies Director of team travel and clubhouse services, (by the way there are a few nice stories including Frank in the book), Roy wanted to order watches that were inscribed with the Perfect Game info for everyone, not an ordinary Timex watch mind you, these cost several thousand dollars each. Coppenbarger wanted to assemble the list of recipients, it grew to about 67 names including Frank, clubhouse personnel, training staff, managers, coaches, all the way up to Ruben Amaro and David Mongomery (even Halladay’s family as on the list, his wife and kids). It’s kind of ironic, a watch that signifies time, and then how little left Halladay would have to his life remaining.

The book is a really nice piece of writing, I could go on much more about all you’ll read about in it. Right up to the end of Roy’s life, it chronicles how the teammates of Roy Halladay when he was in Philly reacted when they heard what had happened. A sadness of unspeakable measure. The book goes on about the legacy of Halladay. I won’t comment on that, other than saying Halladay was a winner, he was a superstar and had a tremendous amount of people who loved him, and now love the memories. He was truly one of a kind for the ages.

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