The Toronto Blue Jays will host the Philadelphia Phillies Friday, on what would have been Hall of Famer Roy Halladay's 44th birthday.
A first-round pick by the Blue Jays in the 1995 MLB Draft, Halladay spent the first 12 years of his major league career in Toronto, making six All-Star Game appearances and winning the 2003 American League Cy Young Award. Between 2002 and 2009, FanGraphs says that Halladay edged out Johan Santana and his future teammate Roy Oswalt as the best pitcher in baseball.
For as much success as Halladay had individually in Toronto, he never reached the postseason while pitching in the same division as the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. Desperate for a chance to be able to pitch in the playoffs, the Blue Jays traded Halladay to the two-time defending National League Champion Phillies ahead of his age-33 season.
Halladay would spend the final four seasons of his illustrious career in Philadelphia, and only remained at his peak level for two more seasons. Still, he packed a ton of accomplishments into his time in red pinstripes.
In 2010, Halladay became the fifth pitcher in baseball history to win a Cy Young Award in both leagues. Halladay went 21-10 with a 2.44 ERA, 3.01 FIP and 6.2 fWAR. Halladay's regular season was highlighted by throwing a perfect game against the then-Florida Marlins in late May.
The Phillies went 97-65 in Halladay's first season with the team, allowing arguably the best pitcher of the era to reach the postseason for the first time in his career. All Halladay did was toss the second no-hitter in playoff history in his first postseason appearance, doing so against a Cincinnati Reds lineup that included Joey Votto, Scott Rolen and Jay Bruce.
2011 may not have included as many iconic individual moments, though there's a case to be made that it was actually the greatest season of Halladay's career. In his age-34 season, No. 34 went 19-6 while posting career-lows in ERA (2.35) and FIP (2.20), and a career-high 8.7 fWAR. Halladay finished second in National League Cy Young Award voting in 2010, but he perhaps should have edged out Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw.
Since his retirement following the 2013 season, Halladay has been added to the Toronto Blue Jays Level of Excellence, along with the Phillies Wall of Fame. The Blue Jays retired the No. 32 that Halladay wore for most of his time with the team on opening day in 2018. The Phillies planned to retire his No. 34 on May 29, 2020, the 10-year anniversary of Halladay's perfect game. That didn't happen because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but when the Phillies do eventually retire his number, he'll become the 13th player in MLB history to have his number retired by multiple franchises.
When Halladay was posthumously inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in July of 2019, he did so with a blank cap, a nod to how much love he and his family had for both organizations he played with. For those two franchises to meet on the 44th anniversary of his birth - in Dunedin, Florida, a half hour or so drive from where he lived - is pretty amazing.