Two-time Cy Young Award-winning pitcher Roy Halladay, 40, was killed in a plane crash in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday. At the time of this writing, it’s unknown what led to the crash.
The former Toronto Blue Jay’s and Philadelphia Phillies’ star known as “Doc” had a 16-year career in Major League Baseball before retiring four years ago.
“We are numb over the very tragic news about Roy Halladay’s untimely death,” the Phillies said in a statement. “There are no words to describe the sadness that the entire Phillies family is feeling over the loss of one of the most respected human beings to ever play the game. It is with the heaviest of hearts that we pass along our condolences to Brandy, Ryan and Braden.”
Halladay received his pilot’s license in 2013, and according to his Twitter page, often offered flights to family and friends.
He was inspired by his father, a former corporate pilot, to get his license. Just last month, he purchased the Icon A5 plane that went down in Tuesday’s crash.
Sheriff Chris Nocco from the Pasco County Sheriff’s office in Florida released a statement of his own:
“Many know Roy as a Cy Young pitcher, a future hall of famer. One of the best pitchers ever in the game of baseball. We know Roy as a person. As a caring husband who lived his wife Brandy. Who loved his two boys tremendously. He coached our baseball teams. To Brandy, the boys and the whole family, we are so sad for your loss. We are praying for you. We know how much he means to you. And I can tell you from the bottom of our hearts, we know much you all meant to him.”
Halladay meant a lot to many people, even those who watched him on television. There’s no better example of this than taking a look at Jordan Bastian’s 2008 piece on MLB.com that chronicles Halladay’s meeting with a young cancer survivor.
Then 13 years old, Sean Clayton considered Halladay his hero. As he was in a Montreal hospital for eight months battling acute myeloid leukemia in 2006, the Blue Jays, with Halladay on the mound, helped him pass the time more comfortably. According to his father, Michael, Sean would be vomiting into a dish while asking what the next pitch was going to be.
Two years later, the Make-A-Wish foundation in Quebec learned that Sean’s dream was to play catch with Halladay.
So, with his entire family, Sean met his favorite player during Spring Training.
Sean waited outside the Blue Jays clubhouse, standing with his family as Toronto’s players prepped for Tuesday’s workout and intrasquad game. Holly Purdon, the club’s manager for community relations, was standing with the group and asked Sean what position he played.
Sean said he was a catcher.
“Well then I guess you need a pitcher,” Purdon replied. “Will this guy do?”
Halladay had managed to walk up behind Sean Clayton without attracting his attention. Toronto’s ace asked the family if he could show Sean around, and the two disappeared inside the clubhouse. (MLB.com)
It wasn’t just a brief encounter either. Of course, the two played catch, but during the intrasquad game, Sean was able to sit next to Halladay in the dugout. The pitcher introduced the boy to teammates, and signed baseballs and an array of memorabilia for him.
“It’s definitely a tremendous honor to have somebody want that. It’s tough. You want to do so much for him,” Halladay said at the time. “He’s a great kid, and to be able to know that that was what he wanted to do, that’s special for me. I’m glad they made it.”
More than a man who could throw a fastball, Halladay was a good human. And, in the end, that’s what life is all about.
RIP, Roy Halladay.