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The Phillies loved Halladay. They also loved Reggie Taylor, a high school outfielder from South Carolina. As luck would have it, both were still available when it was Philadelphia's turn to pick with the 14th overall selection. It was time to choose. Arbuckle chose Taylor.
"We thought Reggie Taylor would be an All-Star centerfielder and Roy would be a top-of-the rotation starter," Arbuckle says. "It came down to we wanted the position player over the pitcher. We didn't have high-ceiling centerfielders in the organization, and we had some pretty good arms.
"Not one of my better decisions."
Taylor wound up hitting .231 in 260 major league games. He was last seen playing in Mexico and for the independent Sioux Falls Canaries. With the next two picks Boston and San Francisco chose pitchers, but not Halladay—the forgettable Andy Yount and Joe Fontenot. Now it was Toronto's turn. Eight pitchers had been drafted, but Halladay was still there. The Blue Jays took Bus Campbell's pupil and gave him an $895,000 bonus. When Halladay made the big leagues three years later, Brandy says, "We still had his bonus money."
Well, he did make one purchase upon signing: He bought a grandfather clock as a thank you gift for Campbell. Later, when Roy reached the big leagues, he bought Campbell a satellite dish so he could watch his pupil pitch. After the 2007 season Roy brought his two sons to Colorado so Bus could look at their pitching mechanics. Months later Campbell died after a fall at his home, at age 87. To this day Halladay can hear Bus's voice on the mound. "All the time," he says. "We talked at different points of the season. Early on it was more instructional. As time passed, it became a comfortable feeling to talk to him. He was more than a coach."
From the basement up, quite literally, Roy Halladay had been perfectly constructed to be a big league pitcher. In his second major league game, in 1998, he came within one out of throwing a no-hitter. He spent the entire next season in the big leagues, going 8--7 with a 3.92 ERA, and after that the Blue Jays signed him to a three-year, $3.7 million contract extension. He was just 22.
His was a charmed baseball life. Until it wasn't.
Doc, sit down," the crusty former big league pitcher barked. "Don't say a word. Keep your mouth shut, and just listen to me."
Halladay took a seat in the manager's office of the Double A Tennessee Smokies. It was 2001, and the shine to his career had dulled. He hadn't gotten anybody out in 2000, putting up a 10.64 ERA in 67 2/3 innings. It was, and remains to this day, the worst ERA in history among pitchers who threw at least 60 innings in a season. He was so bad that the next spring the Blue Jays shipped him to Class A Dunedin. So emotionally lost was Halladay that the club used someone from its Employee Assistance Program, not baseball operations, to break the news to him. "He was so depressed and embarrassed," Brandy says. "The pressure put on him since he was a child to be a pro athlete was enormous. He said, 'I can never go home.'"
The Blue Jays owed Halladay $3.15 million for the 2001 and '02 seasons. Privately, the organization wanted to fix him just enough to be able to trade him. The Toronto G.M., Gord Ash, telephoned one of the organization's pitching instructors, Mel Queen, in the spring of '01. "You've got to fix Halladay," Ash said.