Imagine learning how to play guitar from Jimi Hendrix, or getting putting lessons from Tiger Woods.
Few people ever get to experience being taught something by one of the all-time greats.
Pitchers on the Calvary Christian baseball team are getting that kind of opportunity.
It wasn’t that long ago that Roy Halladay was pitching just the second no-hitter in postseason history, his second "no-no" of the 2010 season.
The “Doc’s” Hall of Fame resume speaks for itself: 8 All-Star appearances, 2,000+ strikeouts, one of six pitchers to win a Cy Young award in both leagues.
But these days, you’ll find him in a different dugout as the pitching coach at Calvary Christian High School.
“I’ve been fortunate to spend so much time with so many great baseball people,” Roy Halladay said. “And I do. I feel like it is a responsibility to give some of that knowledge back.”
The primary reason he’s there is his son Braden.
Braden has been magnificent as a sophomore pitcher for the Warriors, who are off to their best start ever at 18-0.
Braden is 4-0 and hasn't given up a single earned run in 18 innings of his first full season on the varsity team.
“To be around my son- watch him go through this experience- knowing how much I enjoyed it when I was his age, it’s definitely a special time,” Roy Halladay said.
“He definitely doesn’t give me any leeway at all for being his son,” Braden Halladay said. “But it does kind of feel like he’s coaching a team, not his son’s team.”
Braden grew up as his father was ascending to become one of the best pitchers of this generation.
He says the biggest thrill of his life was growing up around major league baseball.
“He’s always loved playing so much,” Roy Halladay said. “I really felt like it was my responsibility to help him to where he could enjoy playing and be competitive.”
Braden even lived in a ballpark for a couple of years, as his family stayed in one of the nice hotel rooms at the Rogers Centre (formerly known as the SkyDome) for a couple of years while Roy was a player with the Toronto Blue Jays.
The sophomore righthander says he’d never be where he is today without his father’s encouragement.
“He’s really good at the mental side of the game,” Braden Halladay said. “That’s something he’s stressed to me since literally I was like four years old. That if you’re mentally prepared better than the other team is physically that you’re going to win the game.”
Braden isn’t the only pitcher benefitting from the former Blue Jay and Phillie’s influence.
The Warriors’ entire staff has been unhittable, posting a microscopic earned run average of 0.47 through the team’s first 18 games.
“It’s about simplifying and narrowing focus,” Roy Halladay said. "And getting the boys to where they’re out there and they’re playing and doing their thing to where they’re only focusing on their job at hand and what they’re doing in that moment.”
“When he’s down in the bullpen with them, he’s telling them what guys are coming up,” Calvary Christian head coach Greg Olsen said. “What they’ve done. Probably how we’re going to pitch them. So when they do step foot out there, they feel comfortable.”
Star pitchers Nolan Hudi and Graham Hoffman, who both also sport a 0.00 ERA, have both added pitches to their repertoire under Halladay.
And more importantly, they’ve felt comfortable with him from day one.
“He’s never negative,” Hoffman said. “He always offers an alternative. He never says, ‘oh, that was bad- you can’t do that anymore’. He works with you with the pitcher that you are.”
“He comes out here with his blood, sweat, and tears,” Hudi said. “And he grinds with us every single day to make sure that we get it done, get after it, and achieve our best.”
One thing Halladay doesn't do is dwell in the past.
He doesn’t talk a lot about his big league days with his pitchers, other than sharing some stories about old dugout rituals.
“They don’t remember a whole lot of my career which is a good thing for me,” Roy Halladay said with a chuckle.
But they have plenty of memories about his new gig… which is going quite well for everyone so far.
“Everyone’s family to him,” Hudi said. “He loves every single person out on this field. And he gives us. The same about of time and effort and everything. And you can tell he really cares.”