Brandy Halladay capped the "Celebration of Life" service with a touching tribute to her late husband, who died on Nov. 7 when his plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. Halladay, who was 40 years old, touched the lives of countless people. It is no surprise an estimated 2,000 people paid their respects to the Hall of Fame-caliber pitcher, loving husband and proud father.
The ceremony started with a moving video tribute of Halladay's baseball highlights with the Blue Jays and Phillies. Phillies owner John Middleton, former manager Charlie Manuel and former teammates Chase Utley and Cole Hamels spoke about the man who threw a perfect game and a postseason no-hitter in his first season with the Phillies in 2010. Former Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi, former Toronto teammate Chris Carpenter and athletic trainer George Poulis shared their thoughts about the man who became a baseball icon in Canada.
Halladay's father, Roy Halladay Jr., told stories about his son learning to throw a baseball as a child. Brandy recalled the stories about how she met her future husband and how their relationship blossomed into a family with two boys.
"We miss him," Brandy said, looking at her sons Braden, 17, and Ryan, 13. "But we still have so much of him. We still have a million phone cords and iPads. We have enough cigars to open our own store. We have a garage full of model airplanes. We still have his not-so-secret stash of hidden ice cream sandwiches. And best of all, I still get to see him every day because I look at you. And if this is what it took for me to have you boys, then it's worth it."
Lots of words. Lots of heartfelt, touching words.
"You were such a great example of how a superstar should conduct himself," Riccardi said.
"When you become the best, what do you do?" Hamels said. "Roy showed everybody what to do. He was not boastful. He was the most humble human being I've ever met."
An impressive group of Phillies and Blue Jays attended the ceremony. Attendees included Frank Thomas, Jimmy Rollins, Jose Bautista, Ryan Howard, A.J. Burnett, Carlos Ruiz, Aaron Hill, Shane Victorino, Orlando Hudson, Brad Lidge, Scott Rolen, Cliff Lee, B.J. Ryan, Raul Ibanez, John McDonald and Kyle Kendrick.
There were many more teammates, coaches, managers and club officials in the crowd. Many traveled a long way, which was not surprising.
"Doc transcended sports," Middleton said.
Most know about Halladay the pitcher, but his closest friends told stories about Halladay the man, husband and father.
Carpenter told the story about how Halladay texted him shortly after his Cardinals defeated the Phillies in Game 5 of the 2011 National League Division Series. Carpenter pitched a shutout in a 1-0 victory over the Phillies. Halladay allowed a run in the first inning to take the loss.
Halladay congratulated his good friend and wished him luck.
Carpenter shared the story about how they went on a fishing trip that winter in Brazil, and how Halladay convinced him to jump into the piranha-infested Amazon River.
"We can say that we swam in the Amazon River," Halladay said. "Who do we know that can ever say that?"
Good point, Carpenter said. He jumped in.
Poulis reminisced about how he always said, "Doc, have a good one," before every Halladay start. Halladay would not leave the trainer's room until he said it.
"I thank God for Roy Halladay and his family for being part of my life," Poulis said. "So I say in closing, Doc, have a good one. I miss you from the bottom of my heart."
Halladay's family life was never far from the conversation. Utley choked up as he talked about Halladay's boys.
"Your dad was the best teammate I've ever played with," Utley said. "He was the most fierce competitor I've ever seen. I'm sure your entire lives, you've heard people praise your dad and tell you how proud they were of him. But throughout the conversations that I had with him ... he was more proud of what you guys have accomplished than what he ever accomplished on the field."
Manuel also spoke to Halladay's sons. He said he will stay in touch.
"I'll be watching you play baseball, son," Manuel said. "I'm pulling for you. I've been pulling for you ever since I met you. I will come to some of your games. I'll get a schedule and I guarantee I'll keep up with you."
And why would Manuel do that? He summed up his feelings in four words.
"I love Roy Halladay."
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.