— Citizens Bank Park
In this town, it takes extraordinary feats to reach legendary status. Jim Bunning with his perfect game on Father’s Day in 1964. The Broad Street Bullies as a unit swept through the town in the mid-70’s, en route to two Stanley Cup championships. Dr. J soared to new heights in Philadelphia, and became a cult hero. The 1993 Phillies are still as beloved as ever.
Roy Halladay is now one with this city, just as the pioneers mentioned above. On October 6, 2010, Halladay tossed a no-hit, no run game at Citizens Bank Park, becoming just the second pitcher in the history of Major League Baseball to accomplish that feat.
Halladay put forth the game of his life – in his first ever playoff start – somehow managing to one-up his perfect game against the Florida Marlins on May 29. He threw 104 pitches, 79 for strikes, blowing through eight Reds hitters. Halladay narrowly missed another perfect game, with Jay Bruce being the only batter to reach base on a two-out walk in the fifth inning. Other than that, an overmatched Cincinnati team couldn’t sniff a hit in the 4-0 Phillies victory.
The hardest hit ball of the night was put on the barrel by relief pitcher Travis Wood. He flew out to right fielder Jayson Werth. Pitch after pitch was pounded into the turf as Doc induced 12 groundouts to just six flyouts.
Halladay carved through the Cincinnati order by doing a simple thing very well – by throwing strikes. Sounds elementary, but Doc threw first-pitch strikes to the first eight batters of the night, before starting off Wood with a ball. All told, Halladay started a ridiculous 25 of 28 batters with a strike; an 89% clip.
But as coy as ever, Halladay tried to deflect some of the attention away from him by praising his partner in crime. “I know I always go back to it, but (Carlos) Ruiz has done a great job of recognizing early on what’s working, what’s effective, and calling that. But really, I thought we were aggressive, made good pitches, and Carlos, again, what can I say?”
We. The man puts together one for the record books, with the use of his right arm, and all he can think about is the guy behind the plate putting down the fingers. It not only makes him a fantastic pitcher, but also gives a lesson in how to be the perfect teammate.
Cross another one off of the checklist as to why he’s now a monumental figure and why he may now be the most admired talent to ever grace a uniform in this town.
Bunning was a fine pitcher, however he lacked (and still may lack) as a teammate. The Cup-winning Flyers were cherished; they were rock stars. Still, even they were a little too rough at times. Dr. J could fly through the air, but his personal life became a punch-line. The ’93 Phillies are still talked about like they just won the NL crown. Steroids, Dykstra, and Daulton give them a bit of a black eye.
Halladay that ain’t. A family man, a tireless worker, a humble human, and a perfect teammate. Halladay exudes all of those qualities, making this moment even more awe-inspiring.
On Tuesday, he talked about letting it all sink it. The pageantry of the postseason, something he had yet to experience. The thrill of the World Series chase, something he’s never come close to. “You work all off-season, all season to get to this point,” Halladay said in his press conference. “You don’t want to go through it and miss something.”
Focus is a staple of everyday life for the Phillies unquestionable ace. For tonight, however, he was able to capture a bit of what was going on around him. Normally, Halladay is locked in enough to block out the happenings within his surroundings. But even he couldn’t keep from feeling the waves of emotion pouring out from the 46,411.
“When it gets that loud, it’s hard to ignore,” said Halladay when being asked if he kept his usual tunnel-vision intact. “It’s probably, obviously, one of the most electric atmospheres I’ve ever been in. It was pretty neat.”
What else was neat, you ask? How about Doc doing some damage with the stick, too. His game was anything but one-dimensional as he stroked a first-pitch fastball from Edinson Volquez into left field to score Carlos Ruiz. Jimmy Rollins then walked and Shane Victorino would send Roy home, along with fill-in Wilson Valdez to give the Phillies a 4-0 lead, providing the man of the night with plenty of run support.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Reds starter Edinson Volquez was quickly bounced after recording just five outs. He was tagged for four earned runs on four hits and two walks.
When all was said and done, Halladay re-wrote the history books. Sitting, chilling, next to his locker was a bottle of Dom Perignon waiting to be uncorked. It would likely have to wait for one of those post-game weight-lifting sessions. Even after work, there is still more to be done, more ways to be perfect.
And that’s what makes Roy Halladay the most beloved man in Philadelphia. Welcome to legendary status, Doc. You’ve earned it.