The press release came out on Thursday afternoon that the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum had accepted a donation from Roy Halladay to display the jersey he wore during Wednesday night’s no-hitter. The curators of the museum already have the cap Halladay wore on that humid night in Miami during May when he pitched a perfect game against the Marlins.
In other words, a visit to the museum on Main Street in Cooperstown, N.Y. will reveal a veritable Roy Halladay wing where baseball fans can inspect a handful of artifacts from the big right-hander’s most memorable season.
So with half his uniform ready to be displayed behind glass at the Hall of Fame, it’s just a matter of time before Halladay heads up to Cooperstown himself to accept a plaque and induction alongside the all-time greats of the game.
Actually, that’s kind of a tough question and I posed to a bunch of members of the Baseball Writers Association of America with the right to vote for the Hall of Fame thusly:
If his career were to end with Wednesday night’s no-hitter in the NLDS against the Reds, would you cast your Hall-of-Fame vote for him?
The overwhelming consensus of voters polled reported that they would indeed cast a vote for Halladay even if he were to call it quits tomorrow. At worst, Halladay might cause a voter or two to mull over his worthiness for the Hall of Fame for a night or two before finally giving him the nod.
And why not? In addition to pitching a no-hitter in his playoff debut, Halladay has led the league in wins twice, shutouts three times, innings pitched four times and complete games six times. He led the league in all of those categories this season all while wrapping up his third 20-win season and probably his second Cy Young Award. With a 169-86 record with a 3.32 ERA all while averaging 235 innings per year in 13 seasons.
It’s an easy case to make, says Randy Miller, the longtime Phillies writer from the Bucks County Courier Post and Hall-of-Fame voter.
“If Roy Halladay walked away from baseball today, he would get my Hall-of-Fame vote,” Miller wrote to me. “Along with Greg Maddux, he’s the best pitcher I’ve ever covered in my 15 years on the Phillies beat. Yes, preferably you'd like him to get more wins before retiring, but he’s won 20 three times, 19 once, 17 once and 16 twice. He’s been to seven All-Star Games, and this year he’s a lock to win his second Cy Young. I’m a very strict HOF voter. Last year,I only voted for Roberto Alomar. That said, I vote for greatness, and Roy Halladay has been great for a decade.”
Well, yeah simply because we know in the back of our minds that Halladay will pitch for at least four more years and will soar past 250 wins during that time. But we’re talking about right now. Forget about the future if you can. Has Halladay accomplished enough to be a Hall of Famer tomorrow?
Consider this… After 13 seasons Halladay’s stat line matches up almost identically with former Yankees’ southpaw, Ron Guidry. In 14 years Guidry went 170-69 with a 3.29 ERA. Like Halladay, Guidry won 20 games three times, including the otherworldly 25-3 with a 1.74 ERA and took home the Cy Young Award in 1978. Also like Halladay, Guidry averaged 235 innings per season and tallied 21 complete games at age 32 in 1983. More notably, Guidry got to the World Series three times, won twice and went 3-1 with 1.69 ERA in four starts.
Now here’s the kicker… Guidry was taken off the Hall-of-Fame ballot in 2002 after nine years where he never achieved more than 8.8 percent of the vote (75 percent is needed for enshrinement).
Are we sure Halladay is a Hall of Famer right now?
Yes, comparing statistics across different eras is usually foolhardy. Hell, it’s even tough to compare stats amongst players on the same team or across leagues in the same year. The great players don’t play the game to achieve stats and sometimes the natural course of the game can skew the numbers is all sorts of directions. However, it’s worth noting that like Halladay, Guidry was viewed as the best pitcher on earth for a number of seasons.
“I’ve always said Ron Guidry, pound for pound, was the fiercest competitor I ever played with. Nobody wanted to give him a chance when he first came up. Too skinny, too small, they all thought. They couldn’t see what he had in his heart. He had a big one and a lot of determination.”
Then there’s this one from his teammate Reggie Jackson in an Sports Illustrated story from the 1978 season:
“He and [Jim] Palmer are the two best athletes among pitchers I've ever seen. The few times I've seen him swing the bat make me think he could be an every-day player, the way Bob Gibson could have been.”
And of course this gem from longtime rival manager Whitey Herzog:
“He’s not God, but he’s close.”
The thing about that is Guidry never got a sniff for enshrinement into the Hall of Fame and his 1978 season was one of the greatest of a generation.
Now this isn’t a case for Ron Guidry (or anyone else) or against Roy Halladay—far from it. Nor is it an expose on the knee-jerk tendencies of the Hall-of-Fame vote. Maybe the point is, after all, we going to get a few more seasons to watch Halladay pitch and it’s going to be a blast watching him put the finishing touches on his Hall-of-Fame resume.