I just watched Roy Halladay pitch a near perfect no-hitter for my beloved Philadelphia Phillies, and couldn’t help but be struck by how calm he was.
Pre-game, during the game, post-game, I have never seen a pitcher more unflappable or less emotional, who instilled more confidence than Halladay. But for a lone walk, he was perfection–for the second time this year. He didn’t even seem to sweat. I’m not sure what’s more unbelievable–his performance, or the fact that he did it for the Phillies.
The Phillies have been an integral part of my life forever. My grandfather was the biggest Phillies’ fan, and we all have memories of sitting with him by the radio listening to the late, great Harry Kallas, or the TV (Channel 29 when I was a kid visiting my Philadelphia family from California, before the City of Brotherly Love had cable). Jimmy Cisco was my best friend in Philadelphia all though elementary school–and I still adore him–and the fact he was the nephew of Phillies Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt made him the stuff of legends (and he will always be legendary in my book!).
When I was in college working at the 76ers, the focus of my 17-year-old affections was Phillies pitcher Shane Rawley–for whom I would later name my dog. I was never sure if he noticed that every time he came in for batting practice I would just happen to be rifiling through the trunk of my car parked under the stadium so I could pick up my head, bat my eyelashes and say, “Hi Shane!”
I rejoiced with the Phils when they won the World Series in 1980 and have still not fully forgiven Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams for his blown save in game 6 that cost them–in my view–the 1993 World Series. My wonderful friend Dan Plesac, who works with Williams at the MLB Network and is himself a former Phillies’ pitcher, says I have to get over it. I’ll try.
I have no greater memory of the Phillies than two years ago when they fulfilled all expectations and won the World Series. My husband, Brian, was at the time in the middle of chemotherapy treatments for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He had lost his hair and was beginning to lose his energy, while our family had lost our feeling of invincibility. We were adjusting to a new normal that petrified me–unsure of what the future might hold.
But for a few magical days in October, all could be right with the world. Health and happiness and peace of mind came to us through angels named Utley and Victorino, Hamels and Ryan, Rollins and Lidge. For those days, nothing could or would go wrong.
And on that day that the Phillies finally finished their two-part Game 5, when the World Series trophy was hoisted and champagne corks were popped in my family’s hometown, we, too, let the bubbly wash away our fears and instill in us the confidence that everything really would be OK.
Two years later, all really is right with the world. I have the most wonderful new job surrounding by thoughtful, inspiring people who make me strive every day to be a better person and a better teacher. Brian is the picture of health, and I love him more every day. Our son is growing–and growing and growing, developing his own confidence and skills, making his special and unique place in the world.
And the Phillies, I hope, are headed back to the World Series.
As I watched Roy Halladay throw those last few pitches, completing a Hall of Fame moment in a Hall of Fame career, it was impossible not to feel like the pieces were once again slipping into place, that everything is as it should be. There was a calmness that came not from a false sense of security, but rather the confidence that things are moving in the right direction.
And we can handle any challenge that life–or baseball–may throw our way.