Halladay's mentor lives on in memory
Blue Jays ace forever thankful for Campbell's influence
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The raucous crowd set to inhabit Yankee Stadium come Opening Day will undoubtedly make for deafening decibel levels that shake the ballpark to its core. Yet, it will be the absence of one particular voice that will stand out most for Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay.For the first time in Halladay's professional career, an important line of communication that had been open for so many years is no longer available. Halladay's longtime mentor and close friend, Bus Campbell, won't be keeping an eye on the pitcher, and he won't be a phone call away. Last month, Campbell passed away at the age of 87 after falling outside his home in Littleton, Colo. -- not far from where the former Blue Jays scout tutored Halladay and signed the pitcher to his first contract. For the better part of the past two decades, Halladay and Campbell shared a close bond that influenced the pitcher professionally and personally. Even over the past few seasons, with Halladay well-entrenched as one of baseball's premier starting pitchers, he'd chat with Campbell after many of his outings. A relationship that began as pure instruction, back when Halladay was around 12 years old, transformed into a special association as the right-hander obtained more experience through the years. "You know everything he's going to say, and you know it by heart," said Halladay. "But there was something about hearing it from Bus that made it special. I feel like I got as much as I could from him, and later on, it just became more of a friendship and it was just fun to talk to him." As Halladay worked his way up Toronto's organizational ladder and eventually into the No. 1 spot in the club's rotation, capturing the 2003 American League Cy Young Award along the way, seeing Campbell became increasingly difficult. This past offseason, Halladay was able to take his family to Colorado to spend some time with Campbell and his wife, Helen. During the December visit, the older of Halladay's two sons, 7-year-old Braden, was eager to show the aging instructor his pitching delivery. Campbell offered up some bits of advice, reminding Halladay of when his father, also named Roy, took his son to see the pitching coach years ago. "Braden went through his mechanics, and Bus gave him little pointers," Halladay said. "That was cool. We took some pictures and I got a ball signed from him. It's been so hard to get out there and visit with people, so to be able to have the timing where I got to see him before he passed, I'm just fortunate the way it worked out. I'm glad we made it."
An up-close look at the club as we approach Opening Day
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.