KUSA – It’s not completely accurate to say Roy Halladay III worked to become a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Before he could read and write and compute an earned-run average, he played with a child’s joy for the game of baseball while growing up in the suburbs of Denver. It wasn’t work. It was play.
Halladay was three years old living in Aurora when he began hitting off a tee with his father, Roy Halladay II. It wasn’t that dad was an overbearing sort. He was a pilot who was gone a lot. When he was home, baseball was a way for father and son to spend time together. Young Roy took it from there.
When Roy was five years old, dad put up a mattress against a basement wall. Pitch after hundreds of pitches slammed into the mattress.
Then came a turning point in young Roy’s life: The Halladays moved to Arvada and a house that had a basement approximately 60 feet long. It’s 60 feet, six inches from rubber to home plate.
I had the privilege of writing a story on Halladay for the Denver Post prior to his first of eight All Star Game berths in 2002.
"All that time in the basement, that's probably the biggest reason why I'm standing here today," he said then.
Halladay became a rare, first-time eligible Hall of Fame candidate to gain election when it was announced Tuesday he received 363 of a possible 425 votes, or 84.5 percent – well more than the 75 percent threshold.
Halladay joins Colorado Springs’ Rich “Goose” Gossage as the only known Colorado natives to become Hall of Famers. In an earlier time, Halladay’s career numbers may have caused a wait before he got 75 percent vote. His career stats of 203 wins against 105 losses with 3.38 ERA were Hall of Fame worthy – but not a slam dunk.
What pushed Halladay over the top was he was one of only six pitchers in history who won a Cy Young Award in both the American and National Leagues— for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2003 and Philadelphia Phillies in 2010. Gaylord Perry, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens and Max Scherzer were the only others who won Cy Youngs in both leagues.
And while Halladay was a relatively modest 3-2 in the postseason, one of his wins was a no-hitter.
The 6-foot-6, 225-pound Halladay was also one of the most durable pitchers in the modern era as he exceeded 220 innings in eight seasons and seven times he led the majors in complete games. Some pitchers, like Don Sutton, were good for 17-plus years. Halladay was dominant for nine seasons. There’s a place in the Hall of Fame for both.
Halladay’s election was met with a tinge of sadness as he died 14 months ago in a plane crash off a Florida coast. The Hall of Fame, though, is an award of immortality. He will live on forever in Cooperstown with the class of 2019 that also includes reliever Mariano Rivera, designated hitter Edgar Martinez and starting pitcher Mike Mussina.
The group of players who fell short of election were Curt Schilling (60.9 percent), Clemens (59.5), Barry Bonds (59.1) and former Rockies stars Larry Walker (54.6) and Todd Helton (16.5). Former Rockies center fielder Juan Pierre was among 11 players who failed to get a vote even though he finished with 2,217 hits and 614 stolen bases.
Clemens and Bonds would have been cinch first-ballot Hall of Famers if not for the belief among many voters each benefited from steroids while posting astronomical statistics after the age of 34. Both Clemens and Bonds received the best vote totals yet in their seventh year of eligibility. The question is whether they can gain another 16 percent of the vote before their modern-era eligibility expires in three more years.
Walker now has just one more year modern-era eligibility and needs to pick up another 21 percent of the vote.