A unique tribute to former Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay is now on display in the bowels of Rogers Centre.
Artist Sean Kane delivered a hand-painted baseball glove to the stadium that depicts Halladay in mid-windup, stretched across the webbing of the mitt in a classic powder blue Blue Jays uniform.
Kane, who paints baseball gloves professionally, started the Halladay piece as a passion project but when a friend-of-a-friend who works for the Blue Jays asked about it, he agreed to lend it out.
The glove now rests in a place of honour in the clubhouse manager’s office just two days after Halladay was posthumously inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
“I just haven’t painted a Blue Jays player yet, and I felt overdue. My kids are Blue Jays fans, that’s what got me started,” said Kane, a Chicago native who has been a Canadian citizen for 15 years and has lived in Ontario for seven. “The fact that he just got voted into the Hall of Fame and with all of the ceremonies in the last couple of years since he passed away, it just made sense.”
Halladay was 40 when he was killed in a plane crash in November 2017.
It took Kane approximately 120 hours to produce the piece, starting with finding a Nike elite pro glove, like the kind Halladay wore during his 12 years in Toronto.
The glove Kane eventually acquired had another player’s name stitched into it, so he had to remove that feature before prepping the glove for long-term conservation and the painting process.
He then sketched his design on to the glove using photographs as reference and applied multiple layers of acrylic paint.
It’s a process Kane has developed over a decade. He has also painted gloves featuring Babe Ruth, Andre Dawson and Carlos Ruiz, Halladay’s batterymate with the Philadelphia Phillies, among others.
“I feel like I’m straddling between the sports memorabilia world and the fine art world,” said Kane, who is based in Guelph, Ont. “Some part of (memorabilia) doesn’t really connect with me. I want these to be different than something you can buy at the gift stand. A little bit more weight to them. Not just to make them luxury items but that sort of meaningfulness, connecting the players to us.”
Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo was impressed with the Halladay glove when he saw photos of it Kane working on it. He believes that such artifacts — the Blue Jays clubhouse has, among other things, two World Series trophies — are important for baseball players and coaches to see.
“It’s some beautiful art,” said Montoyo. “I think it means a lot. We have all kinds of things from Roberto Alomar and those years of the Blue Jays and I think the players like seeing stuff like that. They respect those players.”
Halladay amassed a 203-105 record and a 3.38 earned-run average and 2,117 strikeouts over 416 regular season games split between Toronto and Philadelphia. He was 3-2 with a 2.37 ERA through five post-season starts, all with the Phillies.
He spent his last four seasons in Philadelphia after 12 seasons with the Blue Jays from 1998-2009. He became just the second pitcher in major league history to throw a no-hitter in the post-season, opening the 2010 NL Division Series with one against the Cincinnati Reds in the first playoff start of his career. He also pitched a perfect game that season.