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November 17, 2017

Occasionally, we need a reminder that the players we root on, intensely dislike, or wish our teams could trade for are people. When the villains of the sports narratives we construct are doing their worst to derail our seasons, and when our favorite heroes are out saving our evenings from largely pointless despair, it is hard to see them as more than athletes. Just another hero in a uniform, striking out rookies, mashing homers, breaking off fifty-yard touchdown runs, or dunking on some unaware center. But when we are reminded of their humanity, it is often in the worst of circumstances. The moments where nothing seems fair. We are reminded when we don’t want to be, in ways we wish we weren’t.

Roy Halladay was more than a baseball player. He was more than a perfect game and more than a playoff hero. He was someone’s friend. He was Brandy Halladay’s husband. He was the father of two kids. But for a lot of people, he was a baseball player, and that isn’t all a bad thing, either. He was the epitome of class. I’ve read descriptions of Halladay like “your favorite player’s favorite player.” For all the reasons listed, it’s more than a little sad that he’s gone. From the second I read that his plane had crashed, and there was one confirmed death, I had a feeling it was him. But I didn’t want to believe it. But, of course, these things happen. Even to our sports heroes.

Last year, it was Jose Fernandez. Before that, Flip Saunders. It happens. But when it does, we are provided an opportunity to take a look at who we idolize, and look at them as people. This is, for many reasons, tragic. Yes, baseball lost an icon. It did last year, too. Every sport does, basically, every year. But more important are the people we lose in the process. I don’t know who is next. Nobody does. Nobody is prepared to read that kind of headline on ESPN, Fox Sports, or wherever you read about sports. Who would be? Their families aren’t ready to get a phone call about a plane crash, a boating accident, or Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

This sucks. Writing about Halladay being gone is awful, but he left behind a legacy of having fun. He was fun in all the ways a person could be fun. Remember that image of Halladay after the 27th out of his perfect game. Remember him at his happiest. Remember all your heroes at their best. More than that, tell the people you love that you love them. It’s just nice to hear, on days like this.

Anthony Adams
Political Editor

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