During his two stints as manager of the Toronto Blue Jays, John Gibbons had seen and worked with many a pitcher, but none were quite like Roy Halladay.
The late Halladay was elected into the Hall of Fame Tuesday and of the myriad of baseball talents that he will be remembered and immortalized forever in Cooperstown for, one stood out above all others for Gibbons.
“He had an arm that was better than most and I think what really separated him was his work ethic and his dedication,” Gibbons said on Prime Time Sports Tuesday.
Gibbons managed Halladay for the entirety of his first go-around as Blue Jays manager (2004-2008) and also got to witness Doc in action as a coach with the team in 2002 and 2003 before he got promoted.
During all that time, Gibbons saw Halladay blossom into an all-star, Cy Young winner and among the most dominant pitchers of the 2000s, both in terms of ability and presence.
“He was a big figure and was intimidating that way,” Gibbons said. “Even from my standpoint, making the decision to leave him in the game or take him out, that was intimidating – especially when I first started out.”
Part of Halladay’s brilliance, and the reason why Gibbons says he was often intimidated by him, was the fact he could eat so many innings and go so long to the point that when he was on the mound, as Gibbons said, “the bullpen knew they had the day off.”
“You used to think after all these outings he’s run out of gas a little bit earlier, and you’d go to the mound and he knew when you were coming to take him out and he’d give that glance towards the bench and it was never a comfortable feeling because, No. 1, you’re hoping it’s the right move and then the fans, they sure don’t want you to take him out. …
“So he was intimidating but, from a manager’s standpoint, he never once complained. If you took him out early and the game got out of control and his team ended up losing, there was never a complaint and I respected the hell out of him.”
Halladay will enter the Hall of Fame with a 203 wins, 3.38 ERA with 2,117 strikeouts over 2,749.1 innings pitched in 416 appearances and 390 starts. The 148 wins he earned as a Blue Jay leaves him in second place behind Dave Stieb’s 175 on the team’s all-time wins list.
You can listen to Gibbons’ entire appearance on Prime Time Sports in the radio player above where he compares Halladay to Dwight Gooden and discusses Mariano Rivera’s outstanding career among other topics.