The 2003 American League Cy Young Award presented to … Roy Halladay.
In front of it stands a silver horse, the American Quarter Horse Association Rookie of the Year trophy presented to … Brandy Halladay.
The Halladay house of honour in Odessa, Fla., now has another award.
Roy Halladay, the Blue Jays’ ace right-hander, is the winner of the fifth annual George Gross/Toronto Sun Sportsperson of the Year award. The award goes to the athlete judged to have had the most impact on the Toronto sports scene in 2008. A $1,000 donation will be made in Halladay’s name to the charity of his choice.
Halladay was selected over nominees Mats Sundin of the Maple Leafs, Chris Bosh of the Raptors, Daniel Nestor, a doubles winner at Wimbledon, Don Cherry of Hockey Night in Canada and Jays manager Cito Gaston.
Previous winners are Mike (Pinball) Clemons of the Argos; the Toronto Rock lacrosse team; Cassie Campbell, captain of Canada’s gold-medal winning Olympic women’s hockey team; and Bryan Colangelo, Raptors general manager.
“Wow, it’s good company. Both the past winners and the people in contention this year, have all done a lot for sports in Toronto and Canada,” Halladay said of the list of names. “Obviously, getting picked is an honour. It’s nice to be associated with all those names.”
Halladay has been a mainstay of the Jays for a decade, since bursting into prominence as a 21-year-old in 1998.
In his second career start, he took a no-hitter into the ninth inning against the Detroit Tigers.
That game was no fluke. He won his Cy Young five years later and, this past season, was a 20-game winner for the second time. A workaholic on a “don’t stop until you drop” program, his fitness enabled him to throw 246 innings and finish as the runner-up in Cy Young voting to Cleveland Indians lefty Cliff Lee.
Halladay’s rise has not come without its setbacks. He has a career record of 131-66 — 113-49 since he was demoted from the major leagues back to class-A Dunedin in the spring of 2001 to re-invent himself as a pitcher.
“A lot of things changed for me then,” Halladay said.
But it is not just on the ball field where the 6-foot-6, 225-pound star shines. He and his wife Brandy are known for their involvement in the community, and especially their work with children. If there is a role model in sports definitely worth emulating, Halladay is your man.
“I try to be as helpful as I can, be a good person,” Halladay said this week when informed of his most recent accolade. “I feel it is more important to be a good person than a good pitcher. I had to get to the point where I liked the person I was, regardless of what happened on the field.
“You play for a short period, substance is more important. It’s more important that you are a good father, a good husband and a good person in the community. That really defines who you are.”
Besides pitching every fifth day and trying to go nine innings, Halladay and his wife entertain 10 to 15 children from the Toronto Sick Kids Hospital in a Rogers Centre Skybox on Sundays.
“We go up, say hi, take pictures,” Halladay said. “We’re trying to move forward in other ways. They’ve upgraded and updated a lot of rooms at the hospital. Some still need more, we’re trying to improve some of their treatment rooms.”
Halladay went 20-11 in 33 starts this past season, his 11th with the Jays — and first since age 12 without mentor Bus Campbell. Spring training 2008 began with a flight from Tampa to Denver for Campbell’s funeral.
For years, Campbell, having charted pitches after watching on the satellite dish that Halladay had purchased for him, would call his former pupil.
“This year was different, I was used to being able to talk to him,” Halladay said. “With the people we had in Toronto (pitching coach Brad Arnsberg), unless it got drastic, we were pretty good at fixing things.”
Halladay fits the sexy tag of franchise player, despite talk that the rebuilding Jays should deal him for three or four players.
“Playing my whole career with the same organization is something I’d like to do, something everyone would like to do,” Halladay said. “The hard thing is it takes two parties to agree on it.”
Halladay is humble, as one friend says: “Humble enough to be mistaken for a Canadian.”
“I don’t need much,” he answers when asked if he gets the proper credit. “People in Toronto are grateful — any time I run into someone they are very complimentary.”
Growing up in Arvada, Colo., one of Halladay’s role models was two-time National League MVP Dale Murphy of the Atlanta Braves.
“I could not tell you any of Dale Murphy’s stats but I know how great a man he was, what a family man, a father and what he did in the community,” Halladay said.
So, how is Halladay a great father to his sons Braden, 8, and Ryan, 4?
“On the day they move out of our house, I want them to know that they got the best from me; that it wasn’t about me, it was about them,” the proud papa said. “I’d rather be their friend first.”
And how is he a great husband, aside from allowing Brandy to take a turn at the TV remote control when his favourite show, Survivor, is playing?
“My wife has to take the back seat most of the season and put off some of her hobbies. It’s easy, sometimes, in baseball, where everyone is talking about you, to forget,” Halladay said. “I try to do more for her during the winter and put baseball on the back-burner.”
Brandy has three quarter-horses — Colby, Mutt and Certs — boarded 15 minutes away at Showcase Farm in Lutz, Fla. She competes in English and Western riding disciplines at competitions around the Tampa Bay area.
Halladay’s off-season support begins with him taking the kids off mom’s hands on competition weekends.
A year ago, Brandy broke through with four wins at the Tampa Fairgrounds. The five judges gave their results with riders atop horses inside the ring, as husbands, children and boosters nervously waited.
“It was cool,” said Halladay, who stood and cheered when Brandy got her first first-place finish. “It took her a while before there was a seventh (out of a field of 45) or an eighth. Then, that one weekend, Brandy had four (firsts).”
Brandy didn’t receive a phone call from the AQHA secretary when she claimed the rookie of the year — as Halladay did from Baseball Writers’ Association of America secretary Jack O’Connell when he won his Cy Young.
“They base (his wife’s award) on a point system and put it on the website, not a lot fanfare,” Halladay said.
Provided Colby’s tendons are 100%, Brandy will ride at competitions in Florida and South Carolina next month. She also hopes to make the All-American Quarter-Horse Congress in Columbus, Ohio in 2010.
With husband supporting wife, with wife supporting husband, this is an award-inning household.
Braden Halladay, a ferocious 58-pound nose tackle, played for the East Lake Eagles in the Little League Super Bowl. Games are played at 8 a.m., so that means a 6:30 weigh-in for the under-60 pound division.
The mighty Eagles got off the final play with nine seconds remaining and scored the only touchdown with zero time on the clock to beat the Countryside Cougars 6-0.
“The parents went crazy at the end, not me,” said Halladay, who cheered on the Eagles.
East Lake was given a trophy and all the players received a medal.
And where is Braden’s medal now, hanging over the stallion’s head alongside the stairway?
“Actually,” Doc said, “it is.”