CLEARWATER, Fla. (CBS/AP) — Two-time Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay was remembered Tuesday as an amazing husband, father, friend and teammate who was one of the best pitchers of his generation but an even better man.
Halladay died Nov. 7 at age 40 when the private plane he was piloting crashed into the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida.
A 91-minute “Celebration of Life for Roy Halladay” attracted more than 1,000 people to Spectrum Field, the spring training home of the Philadelphia Phillies, one of two franchises Halladay played for during a stellar 16-year career.
“He’s going to be very missed in my life. There’s not too many days that you actually get to be around somebody like Roy Halladay,” said former teammate Cole Hamels during Tuesday’s service.
“When you become the best what do you do? Roy showed everybody what to do. He was not boastful. He was the most humble human being that I’ve ever met,” Hamels added.
The public memorial began with a video tribute and ended with Halladay’s wife, Brandy, standing on the mound and releasing butterflies from a container in final “goodbye.”
“All eyes are on me,” the pitcher’s wife, the last of nine speakers, said from a rostrum perched behind the mound, flanked by pictures of Halladay with the Phillies and Blue Jays, along with floral arrangements bearing the 34 and 32 jersey numbers he wore.
“I’m really fortunate that I’ve gotten used to that feeling. I’ve literally been standing next to a man for 21 years that people could not take their eyes off of,” she said. “He was awe-striking. He was beautiful inside and out. Without saying a word, he seemed to always have just the right thing to say. When he did speak, people listened.”
Other speakers included Halladay’s dad, Roy, Jr., former teammates Cole Hamels, Chase Utley and Chris Carpenter, long-time baseball executive and former Blue Jays GM JP Ricciardi, ex-Phillies manager Charlie Manuel and Blue Jays trainer George Poulis.
“When Rubén Amaro called me in December to tell me he had acquired Roy Halladay in a trade, I have to say I was pretty damn excited…pitchers like Roy don’t come around often,” said Charlie Manuel during Tuesday’s service.
Hall of Famer Frank Thomas, former Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston and one-time teammates Cliff Lee and Jimmy Rollins were among other special guests, who accompanied the family onto the field for the service.
Halladay pitched for Toronto from 1998-2008 and for Philadelphia from 2009-13, going 203-105. He threw a perfect game in 2010 and that fall pitched only the second postseason no-hitter in big league history.