On Sunday, the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame inducted six players:
Yesterday, the Hall of Fame [had] six inductees: Lee Smith, Harold Baines, Roy Halladay, Edgar Martinez, right? And Mariano Rivera, Mike Mussina. Only one player of the thousands of people that played with all of them on big league teams, only one player was a teammate for all six, and it took me, like, an hour to figure this out, but I’ve gotta share it with you. Only one player. It was the one and only — you know him and love him — Armando. Benitez.
He came up with the Orioles, and he was going to be the closer to take Lee Smith’s job, and Harold Baines was there and then Mussina was there. And then he was with the Mariners for one year. And he was with the Yankees for one year as a terrible, terrible setup man for Mariano, and then the very last stop he made in his career was about eight games in Toronto when he happened to have a locker in the same room as Roy Halladay.
So, there you have it. The Giants were well represented at this year’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony, just in the most tangential, superfluous, and secretly painful way possible. Baggarly’s final remark about this little bit of trivia really did a fine job of nailing down the end of that part of the conversation:
I think he should’ve given all six speeches, and then he could’ve bungled the speech then walked away and said, “I did my job.”
Roy Halladay’s sudden, tragic death was a shock to us all, but not so much as it was to his family. His wife, Brandy, gave his induction speech, and it was truly something to behold, not because of its content, but because of what it symbolized. As Brandy puts it:
This is not my speech to give. I’m gonna do the best I can to say the things I believe might’ve said or would’ve wanted to say if he was here today.
I think Roy would want to be remembered for who he was and not what he did on the baseball field.
In front of 55,000 people, 53 Hall of Famers, a national television audience, and her two sons, Brandy stood on stage and didn’t eulogize her husband, she celebrated him. I’m trying to put myself in her shoes to understand the profundity of the situation — here she is speaking on behalf of someone she cared about deeply and for the very thing that defined a huge chunk of his life. There’s the basic pressure of public speaking, but the extra layer of speaking for a loved one’s accomplishment, for a career-defining recognition and all of it coupled with the utter sadness that comes with remembering that he’s not there for a reason that makes it all feel like too much.
For her sons, Braden and Ryan, they’ve lost their dad and they’re now existing in a moment that they might’ve shared with him but now must simply remember him and feel the pain of his absence — as though that wasn’t something they’ve felt almost every day since he died.
We can assume a Hall of Fame induction is already a surreal experience, but the circumstances of the Halladay’s presence made this almost like another wake. But rather than turn it into a sad occasion — not all wakes are sad anyway — Brandy turned that pain into a celebration and focused on how grateful she (and Roy) are (and would be) to be in this very situation. She epitomized grace. We don’t get to see that very often in the game of baseball, and just as rarely in life itself.