Philly Sports Playback: Roy Halladay’s perfect game, May 29, 2010

Dave Uram
May 29, 2020 - 12:35 pm
Roy Halladay’s perfect game

Robert Mayer/South Florida Sun Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — It was only his 11th start of what ended up being 103 with the Phillies. He just came off arguably his worst outing of the season — six earned runs in 5 2/3 innings against the Red Sox at Citizens Bank Park. 

Next up, May 29, 2010: a date with the then Florida Marlins in Miami’s Sun Life Stadium.

“Roy actually went into that game with a little bit of a chip on his shoulder,” said MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, author of the new biography “Doc: The Life of Roy Halladay.” “He wanted to kind of shut up the critics and silence the questions that were being asked. … He had a little bit of an extra edge going into that start that night in Miami.” 

Halladay put together a masterpiece.

For 26 straight batters, the Marlins had not reached base. Ronny Paulino was Miami’s last chance. Halladay would not be denied. 

“The wind,” Phillies broadcaster Scott Franzke said on 1210 WPHT that night. “The 1-2 pitch … swing and a ground ball left side. (Juan) Castro’s got it. Spins, throws, he got him!” 

“Yeah!” fellow broadcaster Larry Andersen shouted simultaneously.

“A perfect game for Roy Halladay: 27 up and 27 down. Halladay is mobbed at the mound as the Phillies celebrate perfection tonight in Miami,” Franzke announced over the air with joy.

Halladay had thrown the 20th perfect game in Major League Baseball history in a 1-0 Phillies victory. 

“I don’t know what to say. We felt like we got in a groove early, and about the fifth or sixth I was just following Chooch,” Halladay affectionately referred to catcher Carlos Ruiz on the Phillies telecast after the game. “I can’t say enough about the job he did today. Mix pitches. For me, it was really a no-brainer. It was once we got to the sixth — fifth or sixth — I just followed him.”

Zolecki remembers that Halladay, who was taking advantage of Mike DiMuro’s strike zone that night, and had a high pitch count after the first two innings. But afterward, he settled down.

“He really hammered home this philosophy of the next pitch, focus only on the next pitch,” Zolecki said. “Those 31 pitches that he threw in those first two innings — the three three-ball counts — once they were over with, they were done with.”

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KYW Newsradio anchor Jeff Asch was vacationing with his family in Miami and bought tickets to that game, without realizing it would be Halladay’s turn in the rotation. Asch said his wife took an excellent picture of the last out, with Halladay in his follow-through and the ball on its way to the plate.

“The chances of being at a perfect game — the odds are certainly slim to none,” Asch said.

Asch called it the No. 1 sports moment he has ever seen in person. He saved all four ticket stubs and framed the picture his wife took. Asch said his family made a holiday card out of it, which Halladay was gracious enough to sign for him when Asch and the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association presented Halladay with his 2010 Cy Young Award at the PSWA’s annual banquet.

Halladay tragically died in a plane crash on Nov. 7, 2017, four years after his major league career was over. As time has passed since his death, it’s become public knowledge that Halladay had struggled with mental health and was addicted to painkillers by the end of his career, as well in the last years of his life.

Halladay’s widow, Brandy, has recently decided to share more details about the hardships Halladay faced as he battled injuries late in his career, as well as his tough transition to life after baseball. She shared it in Zolecki’s book as well as an ESPN E:60 feature, airing Friday night.

John Barr, an ESPN reporter who worked on the feature, joined Sportsradio 94WIP earlier this week and discussed why Brandy has become open about these private matters.

“I think Brandy really struggled with whether to make that part of his life public,” Barr said. “I think she did so because she wants to try to remove the stigma that surrounds some of these issues.

“She really wants to try to pierce that bubble of silence that surrounds issues relating to mental health and addiction.”

According to Barr, Brandy wanted to emphasize that his painkiller addiction wasn’t about getting high. 

“He wasn’t doing this for any other reason other than he was getting paid $20 million a year. He knew what Philly fans wanted — they wanted another trip to the World Series,” Barr said. “He was Roy Halladay and doggone-it he was gonna bust his (expletive) and get out there every fifth day.”

Zolecki’s book shares Halladay’s story starting from his childhood all the way to his final day and the legacy he left behind.

The longtime Phillies beat writer wanted to convey that despite Halladay’s unbelievable dominance in his prime and his post-career struggles, he helped a lot of people along the way by being a teacher for how to grasp the mental aspects of baseball and life.

“In my mind, and in the minds of — I talked to more than 100 people for this book — in the minds of all those people, those struggles don’t negate all the positive impacts that he made on people, on cities, in baseball,” he said. “His legacy is not just his excellence as a pitcher, but his impact as a person, and by all accounts, he was a great person. 

“He wanted to continue to help people on the mental side of baseball and on the mental side off the field. … Here was somebody who was pushed really hard as a kid and he made a point as he coached his boys to coach them differently. And I think it was important for him to make sure that kids felt good about themselves, confident about themselves, that they had fun playing baseball, that they didn’t have pressure playing baseball, and that’s something I think that Roy’s wife, Brandy, wants to try to continue to carry on as life goes forward.

“I think she hopes that that’s like a way of carrying on Roy’s legacy as being a positive impact on youth sports as well.”

The Phillies were supposed to retire Halladay’s No. 34 Friday night at Citizens Bank Park, but the coronavirus pandemic postponed that game and ceremony. The Phillies said in an email that no decision has been made yet on when the official number retirement ceremony will happen.