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Roy Halladay

Not Just About the Benjamins…”
They don’t play just for the money.

As any baseball player, statistician, or fan will tell you, it’s no small feat to pitch a no-hitter and it’s even rarer to pitch a perfect game.

Yet, amazingly, Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies did both those things this season. On May 29, he threw only the 20th perfect game in MLB history and just last week, on October 6, he became only the second pitcher ever to throw a no-hitter in the post-season, leading Philadelphia past Cincinnati in the National League Divisional Series.

With credits like that, it would be easy to assume that Halladay is near the top of the league’s salary chart. But in reality, he actually took a pay CUT for the 2010 season in order to leave the Toronto Blue Jays to play for the Phillies.

In the four years prior to his move, Halladay averaged 233 innings pitched (the highest in all of Major League Baseball) while toiling in relative obscurity for the Blue Jays. His fastball and cutter were considered among the best as well, and most experts ranked him as one of the top three or four pitchers in the league. In short, Halladay was a stand-out player at a crucial position, which meant he could have commanded just about any salary he wanted.

One man can be a crucial ingredient on a team, but one man cannot make a team. - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Six-time NBA Champion and MVP
But what he wanted more than money was to play for a team with enough talent around him to compete at a higher level, and the choice he made shocked the baseball world.

As one journalist wrote following Halladay’s decision to sign a contract with the Phillies:

Halladay’s contract is so far removed from his market value that it looks like an error. Remember, he had to approve not only the contract, but the trade to the Phillies that precipitated it. He made the choice that he wanted to be with the Phillies so much-and wanted to be with them immediately so much-that it was worth it to him to leave $60 million, $80 million, maybe $100 million on the table.

roy3Clearly, Halladay recognized that there was something more important than money at stake, and his decision seems to have paid off for him, even if the checks were smaller. As the Phillies attempt to play in their third straight World Series this fall, it is clear that some things are just worth more than a fat salary — like surrounding yourself with the best group of people you can.

Even after his remarkable no-hitter earlier this month, Halladay celebrated the work of his team and their shared goal more than he did his own achievement: “It’s just one of those special things I think you’ll always remember. But the best part about it is the playoffs take priority. It’s pretty neat for me to be able to go out and win a game like that and know there’s more to come for us and more to accomplish.”

Tips from the Great Ones

Halladay had to make a tough decision: Would he rather be the highest-paid player on a mediocre roster, or would he rather be part of the best team he could? What decision would you have made in his position? Apply this Characteristic: Take stock of the talents and abilities each member of your team brings to the table. Is anyone under-compensated or under-appreciated in a way that might make them look elsewhere? Are there any gaps where another knowledgeable individual might enhance your team's success? What might you be able to contribute to help amend the situation to make the team as strong as possible?

Almost everyone likes being a star; it’s nice to feel like the most valuable member of a team. But the Great Ones understand that their opportunity for success is more likely the stronger the team is, and the team is made stronger when all the members are exceptional. Instead of demanding the highest salary they can, many Great winners are willing to accept a little less so that the resources can be used to recruit and retain other talented teammates.

Are you a star player on your team? What would you be willing to sacrifice in order to attract or hang on to some of the talented people around you, who make your team stronger or your workplace more enjoyable?

Especially in the current economic climate, many companies are facing the uncomfortable decision of either cutting salaries or cutting positions. Would you give up a few perks, or take a few days of unpaid vacation in order to free up those resources so that your teammates could keep their jobs?

roy5Take a page out of Roy Halladay’s playbook and focus more on the quality of your team than your personal compensation and you might be amazed at what records you might break! It takes a lot of people to run a company, complete a project, or serve a customer. Think about who plays a part of your success each day and what you can do to help your team achieve Greatness together.

Do you know a story of true Greatness from your community? I’d love to hear it! Please write to to share it.

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About Don Yaeger

Don Yaeger

Don Yaeger is a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), longtime Associate Editor for Sports Illustrated, 11-time New York Times best-selling author, leadership expert and executive coach.

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