The loss of Roy Halladay still hangs heavy on the baseball community, especially in Toronto, where the Blue Jays have plans to honor their former ace on opening day by retiring his number.
But this weekend, those same Blue Jays will also be facing a younger Halladay in a special spring training game. On Saturday, Braden Halladay — Roy’s eldest son — will face the Blue Jays as part of the Canadian Junior National Team that plays the Blue Jays every spring.
Braden, a 17-year-old pitcher and high-school junior in Florida, was born in Toronto and spent his youth there, watching his dad pitch for the Blue Jays. He told Sportsnet’s Arash Madani this week that Canada feels like home for him, which is why he wanted to play for the Canadian Junior National Team. It’ll happen in Florida, at the Blue Jays’ spring training home in Dunedin, but Braden will wear a maple leaf like his dad often did.
Saturday’s game will be an interesting one in many ways for the Blue Jays and baseball fans in general. The Blue Jays plan to play a number of their second-generation players, including top prospects Vlad Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette, but also Kacy Clemens and Cavan Biggio, the sons of Roger Clemens and Craig Biggio, respectively. And Jays ace Marcus Stroman, who has been sidelined with a shoulder issue, will make his Grapefruit League debut Saturday against Halladay and the Canadian Junior Team.
Still, seeing a Halladay on the mound against the Blue Jays is sure to make quite a few people emotional. For Braden, however, the No. 1 emotion seems to be excitement.
“As a high school kid, to pitch against the Blue Jays, that’s insanely cool,” Braden told Sportsnet. “It means a lot.”
The entire video feature with Sportsnet is touching and worth a watch. In it, Braden talked about how much Canada means to him and his perspective, almost six months later, about losing his father in a plane crash.
“Instead of grieving and saying like ‘Why did this have to happen to me?’ You kind of just have to appreciate that we had him for this amount of time and he did everything for our family. It’s awesome that I got to have a dad like that for that long.”
After his stint with the Canadian Junior National Team, Braden will return to high school baseball. He’s on track to graduate in 2019 and is committed to playing college baseball at Penn State.
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