Of Roy Halladay, Buck Martinez recalled a man of tremendous competitiveness and commitment — a player who was determined to be the best he could be, regardless of the obstacles in his way.
Martinez saw Halladay’s determination first hand, when he sent one of the Toronto Blue Jays‘ greatest pitchers to the minor leagues.
Halladay had just come off the worst season in his young career, having posted a 10.64 ERA in 19 games when Martinez took over as Blue Jays manager in 2001.
“He wasn’t very happy about that,” Martinez said Tuesday. “I’m sure that he held that against me for a long time.”
In the minors, Halladay worked with Jays pitching coach Mel Queen to create a new approach to his delivery. He battled his way back up the Blue Jays system, through single-A and then double-A — and by the middle of the 2001 season, he was back on the mound for the Blue Jays. Halladay’s remarkable turnaround through half a season in the minors became indicative of his relentless focus on perfection. And that 10.64 ERA became an outlier in his terrific career.
“He came back up with a different focus,” Martinez said. “[As] the Cy Young Award winner that he became.”
And although the Blue Jays never made the post-season during Halladay’s tenure, Martinez said the ace established himself as one of the best pitchers to ever wear a Blue Jays uniform.
“He recaptured everybody’s imagination,” he said. “[Dave] Stieb and Halladay were one and two. And you couldn’t go wrong with picking either one of them.”
Halladay reestablished the Blue Jays after the World Series teams in the early ’90s. He gave a generation of fans something to cheer about — and now, Martinez said, at 40-years-old, it’s crushing to know he’s gone.
“He was a tremendous competitor. A tremendous athlete. He was a great father,” said Martinez. “He was every man’s man. He wanted to do well … [and] he did just about everything you could do.”