Roy Halladay Field, Toronto’s first fully accessible baseball field, officially opened on Wednesday, its name a fitting tribute to the late baseball legend, known not only for his skills, but also for giving back to young people in the community. .
His wife Brandy said building a baseball stadium like the one in Scarborough had always been a dream of theirs.
“I’m so excited to have all of these kids and adults here in Toronto for years to come,” Brandy Halladay told reporters at the grand opening.
Representatives of the Jays Care Foundation – the charitable arm of the Toronto Blue Jays – city officials, the Halladay family and about 150 others were on hand for the launch, where the kids had a chance to lead the all-new bases at Highview Park near Danforth Avenue and Birchmount Road.
The field was made possible through a $1 million infrastructure grant from the charitable foundation, according to a Blue Jays press release.
It will be used for the Challenger Baseball program, an adapted baseball program for children with cognitive and/or physical disabilities, operated by Jays Care with Baseball Canada and Little League Canada.
Two Challenger Baseball teams played a game after the opening ceremony, wearing Jays jerseys with Roy Halladay’s retired number 32.
Halladay – nicknamed “Doc” – pitched for the Jays from 1998 to 2009 and then for the Philadelphia Phillies from 2010 to 2013. He became an immediate fan favorite when he nearly threw a no-hitter on his second match as a professional starter.
He would go on to become an eight-time MLB All-Star and he often led the league in innings pitched and completed games.
Halladay died in 2017 aged 40 after crashing his amphibious plane in the Gulf of Mexico near Florida.
Toronto Mayor John Tory said in his speech that Halladay “gave extraordinary attention” to the people of his “chosen city”.
During his time with the Jays, the Halladays invited Hospital for Sick Children patients and their families to watch games from a Rogers Center suite — known as “Doc’s Box” — each season.
For Doc’s Box and other charitable endeavors, the Jays have repeatedly nominated Halladay for the Roberto Clemente Award, given annually to the MLB player who best exemplifies sportsmanship, community involvement and contributions to the community. ‘crew.
Halladay was posthumously inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2019. Brandy Halladay wiped away tears as she spoke on his behalf at the ceremony, thanking the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies for their support over the years. year.
“Thank you for allowing us to grow, to fail again and again, and to learn how to succeed within your organizations,” she said in her speech.
WATCH / Halladay’s wife Brandy gets emotional at her husband’s Hall of Fame induction:
She described Halladay as a “nervous husband and father”, who “so desperately” wanted to be as successful in his personal life as he was in his career.
“His goal in retirement was to have a positive impact on youth baseball, and as a family, we are committed to continuing that work on Roy’s behalf.”
Brandy Halladay said Wednesday that she and her sons have busy schedules, but being in Toronto for the ceremony was the only trip they had collectively agreed not to miss.
“And the fact that it’s as important to them as it is to their dad and me, that means they’ve learned those lessons, that they’ve understood.”
She wiped away tears when asked what her late husband would think of an accessible diamond that bears his name.
“He would be so honored, he would be humbled, he would be embarrassed – he didn’t like the attention,” she said. “But he would have been really excited.”
“And instead of sitting here doing media, he would be on the pitch, which says a lot about him and his character, and how much that would mean to him.”
She told reporters that it was important for her to continue supporting charitable foundations, as well as being able to highlight what was important to Roy personally, not just professionally.
“Baseball isn’t what it used to be, it’s just what it did.”