Roy Halladay, a two-time Cy Young Award winner who pitched a perfect game and a playoff no-hitter for the Philadelphia Phillies, died Tuesday when his private plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. He was 40.
Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said during a news conference that Halladay’s ICON A5 went down around noon 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. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.
Halladay, who retired after the 2013 season, was an amateur pilot who often posted on social media about small planes.
“I have dreamed about owning a A5 since I retired! Real life is better then my dreams!!” Halladay tweeted on Oct. 13.
Icon aircraft had posted a video with Halladay trying out a new plane. The video showed Halladay taking delivery of a new Icon A5, a two-seat “light-sport aircraft” that can land on water.
In the video, 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.
“She’s fought me the whole way,” Halladay said.
“Hard. I fought hard. I was very against it,” Brandy Halladay said in the same video, before explaining why she eventually understood and approved of her husband’s desire to have the plane.
The A5 was a newer model from Icon, based in Vacaville, California . On May 8, two Icon employees, the company’s lead test pilot and the director of engineering, were killed in a crash in an A5 in Napa County, California. The NTSB report said the probable cause was “the pilot’s failure to maintain clearance from terrain while manoeuvring at a low altitude.”
Halladay spent 12 seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays followed by four seasons with the Phillies. He was 203-105 with a 3.38 ERA.
“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.”
Other baseball players to die in plane crashes included Pittsburgh Pirates star Roberto Clemente in a relief mission from Puerto Rico travelling to earthquake victims in Nicaragua on New Year’s Eve in 1972; New York Yankees catcher Thurman Munson piloting his own plane near his home in Canton, Ohio, in 1979; and Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle 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,” said Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco, who personally knew Halladay.
“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.”
Nocco said Halladay knew many members in the sheriff’s office, and that Halladay was even a part of a charity fishing tournament last Friday.
“He was probably one of the most humble human beings you’ll ever meet,” Nocco said. “For somebody who won two Cy Youngs, one of the greatest pitchers in baseball, he would walk in the room as if he was anybody. Didn’t matter who he met, he was kind, generous. His family purchased a dog for us — K-9 Doc. K-9 Doc is out there working, saving lives, making our community safer.”
The dog was named as a nod to Halladay’s nickname — Doc.
“He was one in a million,” Nocco said. “It is a true loss for us.”
Halladay was an old-style workhorse who pitched 67 complete games and 20 shutouts. A three-time 20-game winner, he was an eight-time All-Star with Toronto (1998-2009) and Philadelphia (2010-13).
Halladay pitched a perfect game for the Phillies at the Florida Marlins on May 29, 2010. That Oct. 6, against Cincinnati in the NL Division Series, he became only the second pitcher to throw a post-season no-hitter, joining Don Larsen, who accomplished the feat for the New York Yankees in the 1956 World Series.
The right-hander retired after the 2013 season, saying he wanted to avoid back surgery.
“As a baseball player, you realize that’s something you can’t do the rest of your life,” Halladay said. “I really don’t have any regrets. You realize there’s other things for you to accomplish in life.”
He was eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2019.
“Heart is broken to hear about Roy Halladay,” former teammate Roy Oswalt tweeted. “great friend, teammate, father and husband. One of the best teammates ever! You will be missed !”
Former pitcher Dan Haren tweeted that “I wanted to be Roy Halladay. I’m heartbroken, rest easy Doc ,” then posted a photo of a signed Halladay jersey .
The Associated Press