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Queen was the Blue Jays' pitching coach from 1996 through '99. He had watched Halladay throw in his first big league camp and called him Iron Mike because his slow, over-the-top delivery looked as measured as those old metal pitching machines.
"O.K., where's he at?" Queen said.
"Good. Send him to Knoxville, and put him on the DL. I can't fix him if he's pitching in games."
That's how Halladay wound up sitting in the Smokies' manager's office. Queen, then 59, sat across from him and lit in: "Look at you! You're stupid! You're an idiot with no baseball intelligence and no guts! You're a pussy!"
Halladay, following instructions, kept his mouth shut. Queen kept insulting him. "I don't think I ever talked to anybody I hated worse than I talked to him, and I liked him," Queen said. "It was unbelievable how bad it was. He should have knocked my head off and walked out."
Queen finally cooled down.
"Now," he told Halladay, "you can walk out of here if you want. You have a guaranteed contract worth millions. You can walk right out of here, and you're not going to pitch in the big leagues ever again. But if you want to pitch in the big leagues again, you will do everything I tell you without question."
"O.K.," Halladay said. "I'm ready."
"Good. Let's start. How are you doing, Doc?"