Halladay’s connection to Cooperstown runs deep

Written by: Craig Muder

Roy Halladay’s passing stunned the baseball world on Tuesday. But in his 40 years, Halladay made an indelible impression on the game – and in Cooperstown.

On July 27, 1998, the Blue Jays faced the Orioles in the annual Hall of Fame Game at Doubleday Field.

Toronto used the occasion to showcase Halladay, a heralded pitching prospect who – at 21 years old – was spending the season pitching for the Triple-A Syracuse SkyChiefs, located about 90 miles from Cooperstown.

Roy Halladay pitched for the Toronto Blue Jays from 1998-2009. (By Photographer Milo Stewart Jr./National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum)

Halladay worked six innings that day, allowing three runs on seven hits against a potent Orioles lineup that included Brady Anderson and B.J. Surhoff.

Later that year, the Blue Jays brought Halladay to Toronto after he posted a 9-5 record with a 3.79 earned-run average in 21 starts for Syracuse. In his second big league start – on Sept. 27, 1998 – Halladay took a no-hitter into the ninth inning, falling short with two outs in the ninth when Tigers pinch-hitter Bobby Higginson homered to left field.

As a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, Roy Halladay pitched in the 1998 Hall of Fame Game at Doubleday Field. (By Photographer Milo Stewart Jr./National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum)

Halladay quickly retired Frank Catalanotto to record the first of his 67 big league complete games in a 2-1 victory.

Halladay’s interaction with Cooperstown, however, was just getting started. In 2010, he donated his cap from his May 29 perfect game against the Marlins. Then on Oct. 6, Halladay authored the second no-hitter in Postseason history in Game 1 of the NLDS vs. the Reds. He donated his jersey from that game to the Hall of Fame, where it remains on display in the Museum’s Autumn Glory exhibit.

When Roy Halladay pitched in the 1998 Hall of Fame Game, he had not yet made his big league debut. (By Photographer Milo Stewart Jr./National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum)

Halladay had the chance to see his historic artifacts in the summer of 2017 when he visited the Museum along with his son’s youth baseball team.

“There was an underlying intensity that endured with him even years after he had left the ballfield,” said John Odell, the Hall of Fame’s curator of history and research who gave Halladay a tour of the Museum that day. “He was such a tremendous competitor, with a burning desire to succeed. And he clearly respected the game’s history and the game itself.”

In 2010, Roy Halladay donated his cap and ball from his May 29 perfect game against the Marlins. (By Photographer Milo Stewart Jr./National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum)

Halladay, who retired after the 2013 season, will become eligible for the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s Hall of Fame vote in 2019.


Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum