* Roy Halladay, shown here at the 2008 all-star game parade with wife Brandy, along with sons Braden and Ryan, plans on taking classes at the University of South Florida in Tampa and then getting into coaching like the late Harvey Dorfman, who helped Halladay so much.
By Bob Elliott
CLEARWATER, Fla. _ Not that he ever was a gunfighter or a dentist, or even visited the O K Corral as Doc Holliday did, yet he picked up the nickname Doc early.
And now that Roy Halladay is a man of leisure, coaching his sons’ baseball teams and flying his planes, he would some day like to head down that road …
Not all the way to becoming a full-fledged Doctor, but Halladay told reporters Monday he’d rather work with heads than arms. He’s looking forward to signing up for psychology classes at University of South Florida in Tampa.
“I’ll have to talk to the Blue Jays about that,” Halladay said.
Scouting director Bob Engle, scouts Bus Campbell and Chris Bourjos selected Halladay 17th over-all in the first round of the 1995 draft and gave him a $895,000 bonus negotiated by Randy and Allan Hendricks …
“And they said they’d pay for four years of schooling at a four-year school if I started school within two years of my retirement,” Halladay said.
Asked if it was 1995 tuition fees, Halladay laughed and said he hoped not or else he’d have to “chip in himself.”
The former Cy Young award winner looked relaxed, fit and ready to take the ball in five days. Now, 37, he hasn’t thrown a pitch in anger since he walked off the mound after walking Christian Yelich, three batters into his start against the Miami Marlins on Sept. 23, 2013.
Wearing a green and white Oakley cap as well as a green shirt and shorts he looked a lot better than last year in a TV interview when his face looked drawn.
He laughed when asked if he had any eligibility left to pitch for the mighty USF Bulls.
Halladay covered a lot of ground in his first state of the spring address … how he can relate to Cole Hamels, who wants to pitch for a contender but is being shopped, and how Pat Hentgen gave him solid advice on how to handle his first year of retirement.
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A lot of people took credit for Halladay bouncing back from a 2001 demotion all the way to class-A Dunedin and his comeback to win two Cy Young awards, one with the Jays, one with the Phillies, as well as finishing second twice, third once and fifth in voting other years.
As former Jays general manager Gord Ash said “the kid deserves the most credit.”
Yet, the most praise the right-hander ever dished out was for Harvey Dorfman. He helped Halladay 1-on-1 initially. And he was with him constantly.
Dorfman wrote The Mental ABC’s of Pitching. Halladay was never without a dog-eared copy. He read and re-read the book before each start.
And then when the binding fell apart he’d buy another and begin underlining sections. It was his bible.
“I learned so much from Harvey and while I really liked working with (Phillies pitching coach) Bob McClure last spring and I’ve spoken to (GM) Ruben Amaro,” said Halladay about helping out with Phillies pitchers, “I can get into the mechanics. Lots of guys are going that. Now, that Harvey is gone no one is doing what he did.”
Halladay said there are so many kids “with all the tools, but there is no one helping them.”
“I think I can help with mental fortitude, to give that extra edge,” Halladay said. “I feel it is my responsibility to pass it on.
“It can be a weapon, an absolute weapon.”
Not that Halladay can teach someone with an 81 MPH fastball and zero secondary pitches to be a success, but he can help someone who throws hard stomps around the mound after the shortstop makes an error or blows up when an ump calls a pitch on the corner “ball four” or any other pitcher lacking composure.
Halladay’s favorite passage by Dorfman, who died in 2011, in the ABC’s?
A minor-leaguer complained to Dorfman that he has anxiety.
Dorfman replied: “I don’t care how you feel, I care how you act. The other team can’t tell how you feel. They can see how you act.”
First things first for Halladay … he has to take classes.
“I have to be ready to make sure I can help people,” he says.
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Halladay has been down the road ace Hamels is about to travel. At the 2009 all-star game in St. Louis he heard chants exhorting Cardinals management to acquire Halladay.
Hamels is available in trade (for a hefty price) as Halladay was in 2009. Remember the story the day before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline where then GM J.P. Ricciardi said “we had a real good talk with the Florida Marlins.”
Sure … Halladay who had the right to veto any trade was going to approve a deal to the Marlins.
“For me there was a lot of emotion at the deadline, I felt I had a lot of good years left,” he said. “The Toronto front office treated me well, but it was a distraction. I was well received in Toronto … even though I was leaving.”
He said it was difficult to pitch the final two months of 2009, going 6-6 with a 2.97 ERA in 12 starts.
Halladay said he wished he could give Hamels some good advice, saying: “Pitching in that situation is a grind, you are pitching for yourself, your team, your city, but really you’re team is not going anywhere.”
The best offer for Halladay? It was made by the Boston Red Sox before the deadline, but the Jays declined.
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Halladay mentioned Game 5 of the 2011 National League division series (when the Cardinals eliminated the Phillies) as a turning point for both his career and the direction of the organization. Halladay gave up a run in the first and was edged 1-0 by RHP Chris Carpenter.
He said rebuilding is the right move.
“I really think they’re doing the right thing now,” Halladay said. “It’s tough to let some of those guys go and to kind of start a new chapter, especially in Philadelphia when the players are so loved by the fans, but it’s essential. It’s essential at some point.
“There’s going to be hard feelings. It’s not an easy job to dismantle something like that. I know that’s not the goal; they still want to be competitive and do the best they can to transition. But at some point you have to kind of say goodbye to some of the mainstays. I think it’s best for everybody.”
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How does a former big leaguer who has been on the road half the season since making the Jays rotation in 1999 handle being at home 365 days a year.
“Pat Hentgen said to follow my wife (Brandy) the house, everywhere she goes until she kicks you out of the house,” said Halladay. “It worked.”
Hentgen learned from following his Darlene around the house.
Halladay flies his four-seat Cessna 182 or his eight-seat Cessna Caravan 208 over Pinellas County.
He spoke of visiting Busch Gardens in Tampa Jan. 11 and seeing a fan wearing a No. 34 Halladay Phillies jersey. He posed with two thumbs up behind the fan’s back.
Not really known as a prankster with the Jays, Halladay tweeted out the picture with the message, “Oopps you missed me! Walked right by me!”
“Brandy took the picture, we tweeted it, but we never heard from the guy,” Halladay said.
Brandy spotted an Instagram of John Stamos posing behind people looking at the set of Full House. “My wife said ‘see what we’ve started.’”
Halladay says he gets up each morn at 6:15, compared to 4:30 when he’d leave Oldsmar to drive to Dunedin or Clearwater to begin another day’s workout (“I’m sleeping in now.”)
Braden, pitches for the Dunedin Panthers 14U travel team while and Ryan plays for FACTR Baseball (Find a Cure Through Recruiting Baseball) which raises money for charity. Halladay coaches both teams.
“Braden goes to high school next year, he pitched Sunday against 14-to-17 year-olds and held his own,” Halladay said. “Coaching is a full-time job. We’re going to Myrtle Beach.”
Young Braden reports he’s pitched in seven games and being a chip off the old block he has three complete games.
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Halladay could fit into the Phillies rotation. After Hamels, Jerome Williams is their No. 2 starter. That’s the same redoubtable Jerome Williams who was released and designated for assignment last season.
The Halladays sold their Newtown Square, Pa., home for $1.96 million, $100,000 over the asking price according to the Philadelphia BusinessJournal. They bought the five-bedroom, 7,891 square foot estate manor for nearly $2.3 million in 2010. It features 6.2 bathrooms, a pool, guest house and an exercise room and sauna.
On a day Cliff Lee, 36, went on the 60-day disabled list with a left forearm strain, Halladay’s first visit of the season to Bright House Field brought back memories of what once was for the vaunted Phillies rotation.
1. Dave Stieb 1,658
2. Roy Halladay 1,495
3. Jim Clancy 1,237
4. Juan Guzman 1,030
5. Pat Hentgen 1,028
1. Dave Stieb 408
2. Jim Clancy 345
3. Roy Halladay 287
4. Jimmy Key 250
5. Pat Hentgen 238
1. Dave Stieb 103
2. Jim Clancy 73
3. Roy Halladay 49
4. Pat Hentgen 31
5. Jimmy Key 28
1. Dave Stieb 30
2. Roy Halladay 15
3. Jim Clancy 11
4. Jimmy Key 10
5. Pat Hentgen 9