Teammates get emotional at Halladay memorial

Utley, Rollins among those in attendance for 'Celebration of Life' service

Teammates get emotional at Halladay memorial

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Carlos Ruiz woke up the morning of Nov. 7 to a dark sky in his native Panama.

"It's a sad day," he told his brother.

Ruiz went back to his room and at one point took a nap. He awoke to a phone call from his longtime agent, Marc Kligman, who sounded different on the phone. Ruiz could tell something was wrong.

"I've got bad news, and I know you're going to feel real bad," Kligman said. "Are you ready?"

Ruiz said right then he felt something in his body. But he said yes. Kligman told Ruiz that his good friend and longtime batterymate Roy Halladay, who was 40, had died in a plane crash in the Gulf of Mexico. Ruiz choked up as he recalled the story Tuesday evening at Spectrum Field, where Halladay's family and friends had a "Celebration of Life" service for the former Phillies and Blue Jays ace.

"I never expected something like that," Ruiz said.

Halladay's life celebrated at memorial

Numerous people connected with the Phillies' organization, including former players, attended the service: Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels, Charlie Manuel, Shane Victorino, Raul Ibanez, Brad Lidge, Pat Gillick, Ruben Amaro Jr., John Middleton, David Montgomery, Matt Klentak, Cliff Lee, Kyle Kendrick, J.C. Romero, Placido Polanco, Ben Francisco, Rich Dubee, Juan Pierre, Brian Schneider, Ben Revere, Juan Samuel, Scott Proefrock, Sam Perlozzo, Danys Baez, Laynce Nix and Bill Giles.

Halladay's dad on Roy, baseball

Utley was one of nine people to offer remembrances of Halladay. He choked up talking about Halladay's sons Braden, 17, and Ryan, 13.

"That was probably the hardest part," Utley said. "I have two boys myself. It really hit home. You try to keep it together. As a baseball player, as an athlete in general, you physically prepare for everything. This is something you can't ever prepare for. It was definitely emotional. I'm glad I kind of kept it together.

Utley on Halladay as a father

"Roy meant so much to me. He affected me, not only in the time that he was here, but he's truly made me a better person as I have evolved as a player and a father."

Ibanez drove up from Miami to attend the service. He recalled Halladay, the competitor and the man.

"I remember facing him once in Toronto," Ibanez said. "It was in between pitches, and I didn't know him yet. Gregg Zaun was the catcher, a former teammate. I looked down and said, 'Zauny, is he having any fun out there?' And Zaun was really talkative and chatty. He looks down and says, 'I don't know. I don't know.' He was too scared to talk about it. I looked back up there and Doc is there with his glove and ball in hand. He's staring me down.

"That was who he was as a competitor. But I got to sit in front of him on the plane and get to know him as a man, as a father, as a husband. He wanted to learn how to play the guitar. He was a pilot. He talked about planes. He talked about boating. He talked about fishing. All these interests, he tried to be the best he could be and full of passion. He was not a one-dimensional man."

Brandy Halladay on Roy's career

Rollins learned about Halladay's death in a text from Ryan Howard. He said it really hit him later that night.

"I got in bed at 12:30 or 1 and Johari is all stretched across my side of the bed," he said about his wife. "I got in, and she kind of like kicked me over. It hit me that Brandy [Halladay] doesn't have this anymore. She doesn't say 'move over' or 'give me the pillow.' Their sons don't have their dad coming through the door and hearing his voice. That's when it really got heavy and I realized how fortunate we all are. Like Brandy said, 'Hug your family a little tighter.' That night I was like, even if I'm going to have to sweat a little bit, I'm going to give you a big hug. I'm going to lay here until we both get uncomfortable because there are people in this world and one in particular in Brandy who won't get an opportunity to do this with Roy again."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.