ARVADA — Brad Madden starting playing basketball with Roy Halladay when both were 8-year-olds in Arvada.
Madden and Halladay went on to graduate from Arvada West High School together in 1995, helping bring a Class 6A baseball state championship to A-West during their junior year in 1994. On Tuesday, Madden reflected on his former teammate, classmate and friend who tragically died Tuesday when Halladay’s single-engine plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico off the Florida coast.
“He was the hardest worker and a great teammate who never took himself too seriously,” said Madden, who is currently the baseball coach at Ralston Valley High School in Arvada. “He had a great sense of humor and was a great friend. I will treasure the memories we had together and will miss him dearly. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”
Halladay retired from baseball in 2013. He was living in Florida with his wife Brandy and their two sons, Ryan and Braden.
Halladay — a two-time Cy Young Award-winning pitcher with the Toronto Blue Jays (2003) and Philadelphia Phillies (2010), 8-time All-Star during his 16-year career — actually pitched in the NBC World Series in Wichita on July 31 this last summer for the Kansas Stars. He pitched three perfect innings.
Madden said he exchanged texts with Halladay giving his former teammate a hard time about getting back on the mound at age 40.
“He was a kid that was bound and determined to be the best pitcher that he could be,” Madden said. “Obviously he turned out to be one of the best of all time.”
Adam Miller — A-West 1993 graduate and longtime baseball coach at Wheat Ridge High School — saw first hand the incredible work ethic and determination Halladay had at a young age.
Miller recalled during the fall season, while A-West’s football team would be practicing, Halladay would be out on the baseball field at A-West and throw a bucket of balls from home plate to center field by himself. He would then throw them from center field back to home plate.
“His Dad would show up in full catcher’s gear and Roy would throw a bullpen session,” Miller said. “This was five to six days a week. He was out there every day working on how good he could be.”
Miller added he would get questions from his players about what kind of guy Halladay was in high school. Again, Miller knew at an early age Halladay knew his path and what it would take to get there.
“We would try to take Roy out and have some fun with the upperclassmen,” Miller said. “His answer was always, ‘I don’t need to chase girls, because it might mess up my game.’ He knew when he was 15 years old what his plan was and how to get there. It paid off for him, for sure.”
Miller said Halladay was an example of what a kid from Colorado could become at the professional baseball level.
“He was always the hope. The bright light,” Miller said. “In my generation, he was the guy who made it. It made it really big. He could be (Major League Baseball) Hall of Fame made it. He was just that good.”
Halladay will be eligible for the MLB Hall of Fame in 2019.
Current A-West baseball coach Matt McDougal was a senior at A-West when Halladay was just a freshman. Matt’s younger brother Kevin McDougal graduated with Halladay and Madden.
“One of the things that stands out for me is he (Halladay) was committed to Arvada West,” Matt McDougal said. “Even though during the summer he was traveling around and playing in tournaments he was at the summer games for Arvada West. He was committed to the (baseball) program and Arvada West. He brought a lot of recognition to Arvada West.”
Then there are the stories of Halladay being a bit of a prankster.
“There is one story where Roy came to baseball practice with a cast on his arm, pretending he had broke it in gym class playing basketball,” McDougal said. “I think Capra (former A-West baseball coach Jim Capra) kind of flipped out. He didn’t know what he would do without Roy.”
A-West has had a banner on its press box at the baseball field honoring Halladay for several years, along with having retired his number that hangs out the outfield wall. McDougal said the Wildcats will do something to honor the memory of Halladay at the start of this coming spring baseball season.