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Imperfect: The Roy Halladay Story


Perfect so far is Roy Halladay. He's out away one to pitch fit toward Third Castro. Has It spins fires active streak ten years ago today. Pitcher Roy halladay joined an elite club throwing the twentieth perfect game in Major League history. Behind the excellence that holiday strove for every time he took the mound was a man who privately struggled with depression anxiety and addiction. Espn investigative reporter. John Barr spent months conducting exclusive interviews with holidays family friends and coaches as part of tonight's east sixty special today we take a look at the hidden inside of a hall of Fame Athlete and the gap between public perception and private struggles. I mean at times. It's Friday may twenty ninth this is espn daily presented by marathon. John Roy Halladay is undoubtedly one of the greatest pitchers of his era. He led baseball and wins complete games and shutouts from two thousand and two through two thousand eleven. He's enshrined in Cooperstown. He's the second player to ever throw no hitter in the playoffs. But your piece is titled Imperfect. Why is that that title actually came from New Holiday? Roy's wife came from her speech that she delivered at the hall of fame induction last summer. I think that it would want everyone to know that people are not perfect. We are all imperfect and flawed in one way or another we all struggle but with hard work humility dedication imperfect people can still have perfect moments and Mike Farrell. One of the producers of this project really seized upon that as a potential theme for the story. You know this is a story about a guy who engaged in a relentless pursuit of perfection and there was a cost associated with that you spent months working on this interviewing people close to Roy trying to find out who he was as a person. What did you learn what we learned that there was a side of him that we just didn't see the image he projected to the public was that of a STOIC workhorse. I'm playing to win a world series if it takes three hundred twenty innings and I can throw that many. I'm GONNA throw it. He came across as somebody who was just laser focused. The consummate professional the consummate team mate but away from the field. And we know this largely through an extensive and far-reaching interview. We did with Brandy holiday. His widow away from the field even early in his career. Roy struggled with anxiety. Everybody sees this very strong dominant person but he was terrified. He for whatever reason didn't feel that he had the luxury of making mistakes. He was tormented wasn't just anxiety that was rooted in his fear of failure. As a baseball player he suffered from deep rooted social anxiety later life. He was treated for attention deficit disorder and depression and we now know that he also struggled with addiction in the final years of his life and in the final years of his career so an apprentice. You went all the way back to the beginning of Royce career. How did it start from now? Well he's got all the tools but right now he no clue whatsoever. A lot of people. Don't remember this part of the Roy. Halladay story in the year two thousand. He wasn't bad. He was historically bad. He posted a ten point six four. Era that year and that remains the highest era for any starting pitcher with at least fifty innings so he had the worst ever for a regular starter in major league baseball. Frankly the Blue Jays didn't know what to do with the guy who's a first round pick and he was awful and they basically sent him down to low able to figure it out and the late Mel Queen. The coach for that team really deconstructed his pinching motion. He was way too over the top. They lowered his arm slot to more like two o'clock. If you can picture that it added devastating movement to his fastball. It moved away from right handed hitters and down and that was his bread and butter pitch for years but more importantly he got his head right. So what happens? The guy comes back turns it around in two thousand two. He had an absolute breakout year and then proceeded to go on this incredible run. Where for the next decade he was dominant Roy. Halladay with a complete game shutout over that stretch. He had thirty more complete games than the next closest guy who happens to be so bath by the way that's kind of the baseball equivalent of lapping the field. So that just doesn't happen. You don't go from being that historically bad to having a hall of fame career and yet Roy. Halladay did in talking with his family and friends and teammates about his career arc. You ask them not only about how he came back to became the legendary pitcher that he was but also how he handled it mentally. What did you learn? Yeah Brandy holidays shared with us. That Roy had tremendous anxiety before every start he would take sleeping pills nights free pitched because he couldn't sleep the of pitching the next day with silver whelming for him. He needed the help. Millions of Americans take medications like Ambien to get a decent night's rest. Well he did it in large part because he was a bundle of nerves on the eve of his stars. He would throw up before we start. I mean you'd think about Roy Halladay who projected just this aura of confidence is kind of hard to get your mind around the idea that he would throw up before every start but and I mentioned earlier the social anxiety that he dealt with when he left the Blue Jays went to Philadelphia a team. That was coming off back to back. World Series appearances. He was seen as the guy who could get the phillies back to the world series and that brought with it a tremendous amount of pressure. Now he responded on the field. His two thousand ten season was unbelievable. Perfect game postseason. No hitter surreal. Wanted to pitch in the postseason. You know to be able to go out and have a game like that. You know. It's a dream come true. He did all these things. Feel for the way from the field randy says you know. He was emotionally rose struggling. John Halliday injured his back in the twenty eleven post-season and the injury stayed with him in two thousand twelve. One of his teammates introduced him to a Florida. Doctor who sold him opioids for cash. How did that affect him? He came home after that. Two thousand twelve season according to brandy he was severely ill. He was in bed for two or three weeks. He had flu like symptoms and she confronted him. He thought he could just stop do that. He only needed it for when he was pitching and he realized when he came home. His body was dependent on these medications just a function. That was the first time she became aware of the fact that he was taking this pain. Medication in order to pitch and she really wants to deliver the message to folks that it wasn't because he was looking to get high it was because he was looking to do his job he was making twenty million dollars a year. He felt tremendous pressure to be the ace of the staff. And how get the team back to the postseason and a world series berth? And frankly he was willing to sacrifice his body in order to do that. Did his teammates notice a change in two thousand thirteen? They did teammates. We spoke with cow. Kendrick Kyle in Roy. Were very close. Teammates jokingly called Kendrick Little Roy because of his attachment to holiday and it was in that two thousand thirteen season. Kendrick told us that at one point he looked over at holiday and tried to talk to you know in his locker on I was I was right next to him on trying to talk to him and felt like he wasn't there. He was really disturbed by his behavior. So he and teammate went to somebody with the team and the team then decided according to former pitching coach. Rich dooby to have a player. Who Roy respects tremendously? Approach Roy and talk to him about his drug use. We don't know what that player said. We're not naming that player but we do know now that the Phillies wore on notice. That Royce behavior was troubling his teammates. We also know that after that two thousand thirteen season while he was still an active member of the phillies. That's when he went into impatient drug treatment for the first time John. That's where you began your written peace with Roy Halladay checking himself into a Palm Beach Inpatient Treatment Centre. What happened well Roy Brandy? Were not in a good place. Roy in particular realized once again that his body had become chemically dependent on these medications just to function when he got home back to Florida. After that two thousand thirteen season he knew he needed help and brandy reached out to a guy by the name of Steve Tracks. Who was the financial advisor to both Kendrick an Roy? Steve was also very much a friend of the holidays. He'd known him since. Two Thousand and Brandy called Steve Tracks at his office Virginia distraught and said he needs help he knows it and I know it and tracks flew down that same day and that same day they drove across Florida and got Roy into an inpatient drug treatment. Facility Brandy didn't tell the boys what was going on at two. Young boys dropped him off at a friend's house and and dropped her husband off at a Rehab Facility and then the next morning she had to go to a baseball tournament for some and act like nothing was wrong. Who's really tough on her? And it was telephone Roy and she said that he didn't stay long enough. Somebody snuck cell phone into the facility and he was mortified that he'd be outed as seeking treatment and so he left early and harassed a mation before he was adequately treated holiday retired that December. How did he handle the transition from being a big leear to being a quote unquote normal citizen brands? Words lost so much of his identity. From the time he was a young boy was wrapped up in the idea of being a big league. Pitcher baseball was all he knew that routine was all he knew and when that was gone was a huge void so he was struggling with pain. He was struggling with trying to find a purpose in life and that led to depression. He just didn't know how to self identify outside of being a baseball player and it later that he realized he needed more help again with his ongoing abusive prescription pain medication in early. Two Thousand Fifteen. He checked himself into a treatment facility and stayed nearly three months and it was after that Randy says that he sought treatment from a psychiatrist for depression anxiety for attention deficit disorder and really began to turn his life around but he struggled struggled mightily all right after the break. Let's talk about holidays? Life after baseball. And the circumstances surrounding his death. Hi guys given everything that is happening in the world right now. Most of us are buying things online. I saw that. At and T. Started doing to really helpful things for those who want to buy a new phone or device online they are offering fast non-contact delivery and curbside pickup. The online shopping is a simple and safe as possible on top of that. They have a flexible return policy. So you can shop at ease you can visit. Att Dot Com to learn how to shop online from the safety of your home. Twenty four seven subject to change restrictions. Apply John Roy. Halladay retired in two thousand thirteen as you mentioned e struggled a bit with the transition away from baseball. How did he spent his time while he? He really floundered for while as mentioned but he did eventually poor himself into coaching. His kids teams. He has two boys Brandon and Ryan and also he re ignited his passion for flying onto planes to single propeller Cessnas and starting in two thousand sixteen started posting images about a new plane that he desperately wanted to buy called the iconic five and brandy in her mind although she was concerned about where he was mentally decided that it was a good thing a positive thing for Roy to have something that he could pull himself into. I was worried. It was difficult for me. But at that point I knew that I had to concede somewhere to and if he could do it the right way I would support him. You said reignited. How did he get into flying in? The first place started with his dad. His Dad taught him how to fly before he taught him how to play. Baseball is dad has nearly twenty five thousand hours as a corporate pilot and he talked about bringing up into the plain. When Roy was as young as two year old I gave him instruction. And I've started a log book for him and it started at about two years old. I would let him home the controls and you know he could fly the airplane and keep it level you know the to would go out into the fields and do model airplanes and it was his dad who essentially taught him to fly. Roy got his pilot's license in two thousand thirteen while he was still technically a member of the phillies. That was really rooted in the upbringing. What is that? What kind of pilot was he as an adult once? He got back into it it. According to his dad he had really good stick and rudder controls. He was cautious. But there were also concerns that his father expressed to him. My concern was after. He got the airplane he started talking about how sporty it was and what a sports car was nice. Now be careful with this thing you know. Be careful with it. There's sort of this stage. You get to as a pilot where you have just enough hours to be confident but not enough hours to be safe. It's kind of the equivalent of your figure out how to drive a car. And so maybe you know you race the yellow light or you go a little faster than you should go. And Roy's father expressed concerns later to federal investigators that perhaps his son was pushing the envelope. Too much take me through what happened on November seven two thousand seventeen. Well Roy drop of his boys off at school that morning and was back home by ten thirty and he was trying to figure out what to do with the rest of his day. The youngest holiday son Ryan had a band concert at his school later that day and Brandy asteroid if she wanted to ride with him. She had a few errands run before the concert and he said no no. I'm going to take the I icon a five. By that point he had to seat whiteboard aircraft and amphibious aircraft called the iconic five and it was part time his health. He said I'm going to take the iconic five back to the airport. Brooksville Regional Airport was about twenty five miles. North of the holidays lived in Odessa. So Brady leaves. Roy Gets in the plane. He texted her and he said I should have just gone with you another wasted day and she replied no no no. I wasn't mad. I just thought maybe we could go together. I Love You. And that would be the last time they communicated with one. Another brandy went to the band. Concert and Roy didn't fly north. He flew west toward the Gulf of Mexico. He climbed to an altitude of about one thousand nine hundred feet. He got over the Gulf. He turned back shelf had started to track along the shoreline over the final three minutes up his flight. He engaged in what you can only describe as unsafe behavior for a pilot. He flew low over the water and over houses over boats. Some estimates are that he flew as well as five feet over the water. I talked to one fisherman who talked about how Roy through over his boat and just buzzed his boat. And in the last three minutes he he engaged in three maneuvers which is actually were steep. Climbs followed by dives and in the final climb. He got to altitude about five hundred feet according to a witness before turning back toward the goal and then started to go into a rapid descent that same fishermen are referenced said it appeared as if the nose was coming up at the end but Roy's playing impacted the water a forty five degree angle. The depth of the water was only about four five feet and he was killed. How did his wife learn what had happened? She was at the band concert and she was texting him about where she was sitting so that he could join her and she received a text from a friend. Saying please tell me you're not flying. Today there was a small plane crash behind my house and she didn't think anything of it at the time but was concerned but she wasn't overly concerned with that point but then she wasn't hearing from Roy. I kept sending notes. Please tell me where you are and now I'm worried because now I'm not getting a response. I called the airport and they're like no the plane's not here so I called my brother and I say can you please go to the House and tell me if if icons in the in the lake and he called me back and he said Brandy. There's a sheriff here and he's talked to you news Cryan. I knew John. I think many people learned for the first time that Roy Halladay had struggles off the field at all when the toxicology report came out after the crash what was in his system. Wait a combination of drugs in his system sleep aid. He had cold-shouldered which is more commonly known as Ambien. He had an antidepressant flow oxygen which sold onto the name PROZAC. He had a an anti anxiety medication. He had a muscle relaxer. He had high levels of instead of Maine which according to the medical professionals we spoke with likely was a result of the adderall. The attention deficit disorder drug that he was taking. We interviewed three independent forensic pathologist and we also interviewed the medical examiner who did Roy's autopsy and toxicology report in all four of those medical professionals are of the opinion that more likely than not Roy was impaired on the day he crashed. I guess I should add the national transportation. Safety Board has not come out with its final. Report came out with what they call their factual report. In mid April. The final report is where they actually list probable cause for the crash. Were awaiting that but if those medical professionals are correct and we have no reason to suspect they are not. I think there's a strong likelihood that the NTSB will acknowledge the. The medication is as playing some role in in the crash. We know that there was no mechanical failure listed in the factual report. There's nothing wrong with the plane. We also know that Roy went through extensive safety training in the iconic five and that the plane itself had a number of safety features associated with it not the least of which is a parachute that he could have deployed would have slowed the fall of the aircraft as it descended toward the Gulf. This is a situation Meena. Were Roy's father. His own father acknowledged us that Roy didn't make the best decisions that day. He was flying in a reckless manner. According to medical professionals he was impaired in those two things combined contributed to his. Fatal Crash was Royce family. Aware that he was still struggling around that time according to Brady. That's the real tragedy of this. He was in a better place. He had coached his son brains team. They had a magical run that spring. When undefeated won a State Championship brayden teased? His father will now on the only holiday with a championship. Ring was a great father. Son Moment Brandon. Roy were in a better place. They were going to. Weekly counseling sessions in her. He was figuring out that being normal was okay. And that's what really makes this tragic. That he was there. He was at that place in his life. And then this happens and it just left a gaping hole in the lives of that family and the baseball world. I mean the baseball road was denied. One of its great guys on that day. All right in a moment I want to ask you about your personal memories covering holiday and what your interactions with him told you about who he was presented by marathon now more than ever. We have to look out for each other in count on each other in marathon. Wants you to know that you can count on them for high quality top tier gas while we're aware travel may not be top of mind. There might be times where you have to hop into the car to run an errand or you just want to drive to see your best friend simply away from a safe distance before you head out. Remember to fuel up at marathon and right now you can get five cents off every day with make account rewards for marathon plus you can earn points for additional savings on fuel airfare hotels and more this is definitely a deal you can count on. It's also quick and easy to Jane. Just download the free mccown APP or go to make account dot com slash radio and start saving today. This offer is valid. Only at participating. Marathon stations remember wherever you need to go. The people at Marathon are behind you all the way marathon fueling the American spirit As one strike Dr Stewart John in many ways this piece is sort of about the wide gap at times between the public facing image of these superstar athletes and their private lives. Sometimes what might be struggling with did your perception of Roy Halladay based on his public image of what you knew before. Change as you worked on it so many of my perception Roy. Halladay was rooted in a story that I've shared in my family shared many times. I live in the Philly area. I was fortunate to be covering the game. That Roy threw a no hitter in the postseason in October. Two Thousand Ten and we interviewed him on the field and it was after filing our story that was winding my way through the bowels of Citizens Bank Park and as I rounded a corner and saw holiday. Who's just kind of milling abound? He'd already finished all of his media interviews and at the time I was on the phone with my family so I put the phone down went up to holiday. I thanked him for giving us something special to watch. And then when I walked away and put the phone back up to my ear then seven year old son Jack. Said Dad was that really Roy and I took a look at Roy. I took a look at the phone and had a complete. I guess for lack of a better word a fan boy moment I blew protocol. There's no cheering in the press box. You're not supposed to ask for autographs. There's just something about the guy that moment that night and I put him on the phone with my kit and he was kind enough to talk to my son and my son. I thought asked him pretty good question. They say what's it like to throw a perfect game and a no hitter in the same year? I thought that was a pretty damn good question from a seventy year old kid. I thanked him as he ended the phone back. And you know I don't know how you can't just have anything but appreciation for somebody in that moment. So that was my brush with Roy. Halladay if you will so many professional athletes who as you? Well know you wouldn't dream. Were doing something like that with them but he was approachable and he was kind decent and I can tell you that having gone through all of the reporting we went through my perception of him is not diminished. All think of anything. I have a greater appreciation for what he did given what he was dealing with away from the field in terms of his struggles with mental health issues in terms of his struggle with addiction he dealt with that and he managed to carve out a hall of fame career and according to his family in France he was fighting is fighting up until the end was fighting addiction. He was getting treatment for mental health. Issues he had and he was fighting to save his marriage according to his wife. And I don't know how you can't have respect for somebody like that. You Bet it climbs and this has been ESPN daily our show is produced by Alexander Hyacinth. Mike John's Steve Marteen Ryan Intel. Happy Birthday Ryan. Eddie tended tro Chris to mellow and Erinvale. Happy Birthday to you too erin social. Thanks this week to Russell. Choi Farkas into Eve Wolf. I'll talk to you Monday.

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