During Jimmy Rollins’ 15 years with the Philadelphia Phillies, he got to play with some of the era’s best players. Jim Thome. Ryan Howard. Chase Utley. Cole Hamels. Cliff Lee. Jayson Werth. Shane Victorino. One of his most historically dominant teammates – the late Roy Halladay – will be posthumously inducted onto the Phillies Wall of Fame Saturday evening.
Saturday morning, Rollins spoke to PhilliesNation.com at length about Halladay, who he was a teammate of from 2010-2013.
“Roy was just a good man,” Rollins said at an event commemorating the 10-year anniversary of the 2008 Phillies World Series title held at Dynasty Sports. “Obviously his baseball speaks for itself – you can read [about that] and Google that. But being able to spend time with him on Nike trips and seeing a different side of a guy that when he got to the ballpark was dedicated, serious about what he needed to do…and then to see him loosen up and smile and have fun, I was like ‘wow, he really does enjoy life.’ So I got to know obviously both sides of Roy, playing with him and just going on different Nike trips and getting to know the guy.”
By the time the Phillies acquired Halladay in December of 2010, Rollins had already won a league MVP, two National League pennants and the 2008 World Series. Still, Halladay, who will become eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2019, added another sense of legitimacy to the Phillies. In 2010, he pitched a perfect game against the then-Florida Marlins in May and just the second postseason no-hitter in baseball history in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds. In November of that same year, he won the National League Cy Young Award, becoming the first Phillie to win the award since Steve Bedrosian in 1987. After becoming just the fifth pitcher in MLB history to win a Cy Young Award in both leagues in 2010, Halladay was narrowly edged out by Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers for the award in 2011.
Halladay, of course, anchored one of the most dominant rotations in MLB history in 2011, with Lee, Hamels, Roy Oswalt, Joe Blanton and Vance Worley all making important starts for the team that year. Halladay went 19-6, threw eight complete games, tallied a career-low 2.35 ERA and a career-high 8.3 fWAR. He, Rollins and the Phillies won a franchise-record 102 games that season.
But when Halladay tragically passed away last November, he was remembered as more than just a ferocious competitor. He was remembered as a tremendously important community figure in both Toronto and Philadelphia, the two cities that he spent his career in. Any time a former athlete passes away, it’s tragic. But the mourning after Halladay’s passing felt more personal, probably in part because the eight-time All-Star had affected so many lives in a positive way.
Rollins says that the compassion that Halladay displayed away from the baseball diamond will be part of his lasting legacy.
“[Roy] had a big heart, it was always open. He wanted to share things with you, he wanted you to be a big kid like he was,” Rollins recalled. “When the game started, he was all man. But off the field, getting away from the ballpark, he was a big kid, a lot of toys, he wanted to share all of that with you.”
PhilliesNation.com’s Kevin McCormick contributed to this piece.
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