The opening of Roy Halladay field honours the legacy of the Toronto Blue Jays legend on and off the pitching mound.
The field is Toronto’s first ever full-accessible baseball diamond and was unveiled in Scarborough’s Highview Park this month.
It will include vulcanized rubber for traction and double-row dugouts that allow players in wheelchairs to easily manoeuvre, according to a recent city of Toronto press release.
Funding from the Jays Care foundation and the city of Toronto helped make the field possible.
The opening ceremony was followed by a game played by teams with Challenger Baseball Canada, an organization dedicated to helping individuals with cognitive and/or physical disabilities have the opportunity to play baseball.
Halladay, who went by the nickname “Doc,” pitched for the Blue Jays from 1998 to 2009. The right-hander was drafted by the Blue Jays no.17 in the 1995 MLB draft out of Arvada West High School in Colorado.
He developed into one of the most dominant pitchers to ever play as his stardom anchored Toronto during the franchise’s tumultuous era in the early 2000s.
“Roy Halladay was the Blue Jays all-time great pitcher,” said Keegan Matheson, Blue Jays reporter for MLB.com. “A classic work horse, capable of being the best in the world [and] face of the entire organization. When you talk about all-time greats with the Toronto Blue Jays, he’s at the very top.”
Off the field, Halladay was dedicated to his charitable works. At the unveiling, Halladay’s wife Brandy said the field continues Roy’s ongoing commitment to give back to Toronto communities in need.
During his time with the Blue Jays, Roy and Brandy established Doc’s Box, which invited children and their families from Sick Kids hospital to watch games at the Rogers Centre.
“You hear the stories of his work through the community,” Matheson said. “You know the [Halladay] name through baseball, but at this point what he did on the field is not what is spoken about at events like this. [It’s about] the level he cared about the sport and the fact he wanted the sport to be more accessible.”
The ceremonial first pitch was thrown by Halladay’s son, Braden, who was drafted by the Blue Jays in 2019.
Halladay was posthumously inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2018 on the first ballot with about 85 per cent of the vote. He passed away in a piloting accident in 2017.
During his career, Halladay won the American League Cy Young award as the league’s best pitcher in 2003, and the National League Cy Young with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2010. He is one of six pitchers to win the Cy Young award in both leagues.
Along with eight All-Star selections, Halladay pitched the 20th perfect game in MLB history on May 29, 2010.
His no.32 was retired by the Blue Jays in 2018, and his no.34 was retired by the Phillies in 2021.
Halladay’s name was added to the Blue Jays’ Level of Excellence in 2018.
Roy Halladay Field is located at 150 Highview Ave. in Scarborough.
Listen to Keegan Matheson’s full interview: