TORONTO – Some free advice for the Toronto Blue Jays, should they happen to want it: Don’t wait for an entire tribute package to be prepared, just retire Roy Halladay’s No. 32, immediately.
No matter how they end up celebrating his memory, and internal discussions on how to fittingly honour the franchise icon killed Tuesday in a plane crash are already underway, the removal of 32 from circulation has to be a part of it.
The Blue Jays were probably going to wait until his induction to the Hall of Fame – he won’t be eligible until the 2019 ballot – to retire his number. That’s what they did with Roberto Alomar’s No. 12. But now that Halladay is gone there’s no point in waiting.
Deciding on the right time for his addition the club’s Level of Excellence, perhaps even placing a statue, among other honours requires planning and nuance. Consultation with the Halladay family will be important and quite obviously they’re dealing with far more important things right now.
But it’s obvious that no Blue Jays player should wear 32 again. Formalize it now, sort out the details later, and give a grieving fan base something small to smile about amid the lingering heartache.
To be fair, this is uncharted territory for the Blue Jays, who because of their youth as a franchise hadn’t lost any iconic players before Halladay. Of the 10 people the team’s recognized on the Level of Excellence, only beloved radio broadcaster Tom Cheek, who died from cancer in 2005, is gone.