The eighth-grade English assignment seemed relatively simple. The teacher instructed the students to write an essay on what they wanted to be when they grow up with the warning, “Don’t be submitting any silly goals like President or professional athlete.” Harry LeRoy Halladay III was in a quandary. All he had ever wanted to be was a baseball player. Halladay, better known as Roy, had been playing catch with his father since he was 3. He was the youngest on his T-ball team at the age of 5. And in the basement of the family home was a batting cage his father built.
What, he wondered, was silly about wanting to be a baseball player? Nothing, said Harry LeRoy Halladay II.
“I called the teacher,” the father explained a few years ago. “She said she wanted the children to be realistic. I asked why take dreams away? Whether kids fulfill their dreams is not up to you. It’s up to them.”
Halladay’s dream did come true. He did become a baseball player, and not just any baseball player. He became a pitcher who for a decade was arguably the most dominant pitcher in the game.
But for all Halladay accomplished he never forgot where he came from and who was there to help him along the way, which added to the emotions on Tuesday when Halladay, 40, died when the plane he was flying crashed into the Gulf of Mexico.