To be honest, one would have to admit that the life of a professional baseball player is more often than not a charmed endeavor. While factors such as intense competition for roster positions, long trips away from family, and unrelenting public scrutiny come with the job, so do the others we often shortly come back to- namely money, fame, and power. Throw in the ability to "retire" in your thirties and faced with the trade-offs few would decline the offer.
A modern day major league superstar fares even better than his peers of privilege, as he sits not only in the glories of accomplishment, but does so with eight-figure salaries spelled out in nine-figure contracts. Tuck a copy away in the Caribbean retreat to show guests as the ultimate party favor. Or, if it better suits you, just buy your own island and retreat to the oasis for the months preceding your six week Florida beach tune-up known as Spring Training.
But one man, firmly entrenched with (arguably heading) the elite stands apart. You see, he turned down that nine figure-contract and took less money just for the chance to play in the baseball Utopia that is Philadelphia and its perennially achieving Phillies franchise. While other major leaguers are bastions of selfishness (Jose Reyes, formerly of the bankrupt New York Mets, last season removed himself from a game in the first inning to assure a batting crown rather than risk a fair outcome... and was rewarded with his nine-figure deal from the marauding Marlins of luxury tax island), this man buys his teammates luxury goods to thank them for sharing in his individual greatness. He is different.
And so it came as no surprise that on a 29 degree December morning, while the great spectacle that is the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic preparations saw an ice hockey rink being constructed on the field of Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park, Roy Halladay emerged in shorts and a workout top to continue his training for the upcoming season. With each long toss, he likely harkened back to last season's emotional ending, when his teammates were unable- on that very field- to capitalize on the one-run gem he pitched in Game 5 of the National League Division Series. But dwelling isn't what makes heroes. They, like Halladay, make themselves.
Roy Halladay is the uncompromised duality of excellence and hard work, and he is the I Want to Go to the Zoo with Roy Halladay zoowithroy.com ™ 2011 Man of the Year.
See also: Roy Halladay Named ZWR's 2010 Man of the Year