The Toronto Blue Jays honoured the late Roy Halladay with a touching tribute ahead of Thursday's home opener against the Yankees. It was a tough one to watch that pulled at the heartstrings.
Thursday's contest was the club's first since Halladay died in a plane crash off the Gulf of Mexico last November. It's an especially fitting time for the tribute as the former Blue Jays and Phillies ace started a franchise-record seven straight Opening Day games for Toronto from 2003-09.
The pregame ceremony saw his his wife, Brandy, and two sons, Ryan and Braden, take the field to witness the retiring of Halladay's No. 32—which was raised to the rafters above centre field—as Doc joined the team's Level of Excellence as well as Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar as the only players in franchise history to have their numbers retired. The team is playing with a "32" patch on the sleeve of each jersey worn this season.
Halladay was the 17th overall pick of the 1995 Draft, and became one of the greatest pitchers in franchise history during his 11 seasons in Toronto, ranking third all time among Blue Jays starting pitchers in ERA (3.43), second in wins (148) and strikeouts (1,495), tied for first with a 1.20 WHIP, and first in WAR.
He was a beloved member of the community, too, spearheading various initiatives including the "Doc's Box" program—where children from the community attended games in a luxury suite at Rogers Centre—during his time in Toronto. The program was implemented after Halladay signed his first contract extension with the Jays and remained in place until he was traded to the Phillies after the 2009 season.
The eight-time All Star, who was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame last year, was an AL Cy Young winner in 2003 and captured the NL Cy Young in 2010. He spent parts of four seasons with the Phillies before retiring in 2013 due to shoulder issues. His stint in Philadelphia included two more All-Star appearances, a perfect game, and a no-hitter in his first career postseason game.