Roy Halladay, a two-time Cy Young Award-winning pitcher who retired from baseball nearly four years ago, died when his plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday. He was 40.
Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said during a news conference that Halladay’s ICON A5, a small single-engine aircraft, went down around noon Tuesday off the coast of Florida.
The sheriff’s office marine unit responded and found Halladay’s body in shallow water near some mangroves. No survivors were found. Police said they couldn’t confirm if there were additional passengers on the plane or say where it was headed.
Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “A well-respected figure throughout the game, Roy was a fierce competitor during his 16-year career, which included eight All-Star selections, two Cy Young Awards, a perfect game and a postseason no-hitter.
“On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my deepest condolences to his family, including his wife, Brandy, and two sons, Ryan and Braden, his friends and countless fans, as well as the Blue Jays and Phillies organizations.”
Halladay received his pilot’s license several years ago and tweeted photos last month of himself standing next to a new ICON A5 as part of the plane’s marketing campaign.
In a story posted last month on ICON’s website to promote the A5, Halladay said he had “been dreaming about flying since I was a boy but was only able to become a pilot once I retired from baseball.”
In a video posted on ICON’s website, Halladay said the terms of his baseball contract prevented him from having a pilot’s license while playing and that his wife was originally against the idea of him getting the aircraft.
Cincinnati Reds in the National League Division Series, he became only the second pitcher to throw a postseason no-hitter, joining Don Larsen, who accomplished the feat for the New York Yankees in the 1956 World Series.
In a statement, the Phillies said, “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.” Added team chairman David Montgomery of Halladay at a news conference later Tuesday: “All-Star pitcher. All-Star person. All-Star father and family man.”
Halladay signed a one-day contract with Toronto in December 2013 so he could retire as a member of the Blue Jays, the team with which he spent the first 12 years of his career.
“The Toronto Blue Jays organization is overcome by grief with the tragic loss of one of the franchise’s greatest and most respected players, but even better human being,” the team said in a statement. “It is impossible to express what he has meant to this franchise, the city and its fans. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”
Halladay won the 2003 American League Cy Young Award and went 148-76 with a 3.43 ERA in 12 seasons with the Blue Jays. He was traded to the Phillies after the 2009 season and won the NL Cy Young in 2010.
He is eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2019.
In recent years, Halladay had become a mental coach for Phillies minor leaguers. Rather than work on pitching with them, he worked with them on the mental approach to pitching — tutelage that some called invaluable.
Several of Halladay’s former teammates and opponents offered their condolences on social media after learning about his death.
Such a sad day. We lost a great ball player but an even better human being. Many prayers to Brandy, Ryan, & Brayden. We will miss you Roy.
Cole Hamels, the former Phillies left-hander, spoke about his teammate on Tuesday while at Citizens Bank Park.
“In order to be great at something, you have to have mentors, and he was one for me,” Hamels said. “I watched from afar with being here and him being in Toronto. We got to see him pitch in spring training and then watching during the season; he was the greatest of that decade, he was the greatest pitcher. You wanted to watch him, see how he attacked hitters. What was he doing different, why was he so great? Then to finally play catch with him and see he had a purpose. Behind everything he did, he had a purpose.
“You have very small, short moments in life to do something great so you have to maximize it, and he did. He made everybody better. I think that is what you noticed. Wasn’t just Roy Halladay is coming into pitch. Roy Halladay brought a team with him to win. He made everyone rise up to the best of their abilities. What he did here was something special. You didn’t miss those moments when he pitched. When you had Roy Halladay on the mound, you didn’t miss an inning, you didn’t miss a pitch. You were watching every moment.”
Hamels on Halladay: ‘He means a lot to all of us’
Cole Hamels reflects on the life of his former teammate Roy Halladay.
Other baseball players to die in plane crashes include: Pittsburgh Pirates star Roberto Clemente in a relief mission from Puerto Rico, while traveling to earthquake victims in Nicaragua on New Year’s Eve in 1972; Yankees catcher Thurman Munson, while piloting his own plane near his home in Canton, Ohio, in 1979; and Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle, while piloting his own plane in New York City in 2006.
Halladay was nominated several times for the Roberto Clemente Award, given by Major League Baseball to players for sportsmanship and community involvement. The Halladay Family Foundation has aided children’s charities, hunger relief and animal rescue.
“Many of you know Roy as a Cy Young winner, future Hall of Famer, one of the best pitchers ever to pitch the game of baseball,” Nocco said. “We know Roy as a person, as a caring husband who loved his wife, Brandy. He loved his two boys tremendously … and we are so sad for your loss.”
According to the Tampa Bay Times, Halladay had resided in Odessa, Florida, since he retired and had coached youth baseball teams there. This past spring, he was a volunteer assistant at Calvary Christian High, where his son Braden was a sophomore on the undefeated team, which won a state title.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.