The question was simple and direct.
Brandy Halladay let the question swirl around in her head, her lips moved, but no words came out, and after pausing for three, four, five seconds, she finally answered.
“Yes,’’ she blurted out.
She was asked whether she believed her late husband, Hall of Fame pitcher Roy “Doc’’ Halladay, was an addict. This is the complicated legacy of Halladay.
The Halladay family was supposed to be at Citizens Bank Park on Friday in Philadelphia, celebrating the 10th anniversary of his perfect game against the Miami Marlins. Instead, ESPN’s E:60 will be televising a powerful and absorbing documentary called "Imperfect: The Roy Halladay Story" at 7 p.m. ET Friday, led by director John Barr, uncovering Halladay’s demons that few knew, his life ending in a plane crash with his body filled with drugs.
“Everybody saw him as this very strong, dominant person,’’ Brandy Halladay told Barr and ESPN, “but he was terrified. He didn’t feel like he had the luxury of making a mistake.
“He was tormented. He truly was. He was a tormented man.’’
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Halladay, killed the morning of Nov. 7, 2017, when his plane crashed in the Gulf of Mexico, had opioids, amphetamines, anti-depressants and anxiety medications in his body. He twice had been to drug rehab centers. Once, for three weeks in 2013, when he was pitching for the Phillies. Another time, for three months in 2015, after retirement.
There were signs all along of his addiction, his teammates and Phillies employees say. He didn’t seem himself on some days. He was there physically, but his mind wandered. His eyes were vacant. He tried to tell friends he was OK, just having marital problems and undergoing counseling, but he couldn’t hide his addiction from those close to him.
“Something wasn’t right with him,’’ said Kyle Kendrick, his former Phillies teammate and close friend. “Just the way he was acting, you could just see something was wrong. I tried to talk to him and felt like he wasn’t there.
“It was just terrible to see.’’
The Phillies assistance program tried to help Halladay in his battle with addiction, depression and anxiety. So did his wife. His closest friends. His parents and sisters.
When Halladay retired in 2013, everyone wanted to believe he would get better. He no longer would need the painkillers to persevere through his severe back and shoulder pain, the sleeping pills to help him rest through the night before each start, and the anti-anxiety medicine, which still didn’t prevent him from vomiting every time he took the mound.
“Those pills weren’t fixing the problem,’’ Brandy Halladay says, “they were masking the symptoms for him to do his job.’’
The addiction severely strained their marriage, and when Halladay struggled the final season in 2013, going 4-5 with a 6.82 ERA, lasting just one-third of an inning in the last start against the Marlins, Brandy begged him to retire.
“Brandy had enough,’’ Barr said. “The way she presented it to him was, 'If you don’t walk away from baseball, we’re done.'"
Halladay, 36, retired on Dec. 9, 2013, in a tearful news conference at the baseball winter meetings, saying his body was shot and it was time to be with his family. Thirteen months later, he was back in a West Palm Beach drug rehab center, spending three months before rejoining his family.
“He didn’t know how to self-evaluate without baseball,’’ Brandy Halladay said. “He didn’t know who he was. If baseball was his identify, then what was he? He stopped taking care of himself, inside and out. He was just lost.’’
Halladay’s weight fluctuated from 300 pounds to 205 pounds after retirement. He was seeing a psychiatrist. He was undergoing marriage counseling. His only escape was flying. He bought two single-engine planes, and later, a two-seat amphibious aircraft, the Icon A5.
The sky was his salvation. He felt free. He felt at peace.
He took his new plane out the morning of Nov. 7. He was supposed to join Brandy and his youngest son, Ryan, at school for a band recital. He told her he was going to take the plane from their lakefront home in Odessa, Florida, on a 25-mile trip north to the local Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport. He instead turned west toward the Gulf of Mexico.
When Halladay left the house, Brandy said he seemed a little sad, quiet, and scattered. But impaired? Brandy didn’t see that.
Halladay took off in his plane, hovered over the Gulf of Mexico and began doing daredevil maneuvers, flying as high as 500 feet, then swooping down barely above the water, and doing it again and again.
One time, too many.
He was in the air for only 17 minutes when the plane hit the water. The plane disintegrated. Halladay was killed on impact, his body found in four feet of water. Halladay’s autopsy report revealed high concentrations of morphine and amphetamines in his body, along with an antidepressant, a sleeping aid and traces of alcohol.
Halladay’s father, Roy Halladay Jr., a commercial pilot, told Sports Illustrated last summer that he didn’t know whether his son’s accident was a suicide, but Brandy Halladay vehemently denied there was any intent.
“She said there was no way he committed suicide,’’ Barr said, “he wasn’t in that dark of a place. She wants to put that storyline to rest. If the plane was hurtling down, and he was trying to pull the nose up from the dive, that shred of evidence doesn’t support that theory.
“The reality is we don’t know why he crashed. We know he was flying recklessly. We know that it was not mechanical failure. But it’s believed he was impaired on that final flight.’’
Braden, their oldest son who is a minor-league pitcher in the Toronto Blue Jays’ organization, who sat on their boat deck with his mother weeping for hours the afternoon of his father’s death, believes it’s senseless to even wonder.
“For me, it just doesn’t matter,’’ Braden said. “I don’t think I need to be caught up in why it happened. Or how it happened. Because honestly, there’s no benefit of me knowing.
“The only thing it can do is hurt if it’s something I don’t want to hear.’’
The hope is that Halladay’s struggles with addiction, first with alcohol and then drugs, will lead others for help. May is Mental Health month.
There should be no shame asking for help.
“I hope somebody hears our story …,’’ Brandy Halladay says. “Everybody should be able to ask for help and not be judged or looked down upon for that.
"If one person asks for help that he was scared to before, then we did a good thing.’’
Follow Bob Nightengale on Twitter: @Bnightengale