Yesterday, we learned the tragic news that Roy Halladay, the 2-time Cy Young winner and 8-time All-Star, died in a plane crash. Authorities said that he was flying an ICON A5 amphibious aircraft around 1pm yesterday when it crashed 10 miles west of St. Petersburg, Florida. He was the only person on board.
Just saying the word “was” there is surreal. I can’t believe that I’m talking about Roy Halladay in the past tense now. I can’t believe that he’s gone at 40 years old, leaving behind a wife and two sons. In his prime, there wasn’t a more dominant pitcher than Roy Halladay. 2 Cy Young Awards, 67 complete games, a perfect game, and then five months after that, a no-hitter in his first ever postseason start. Calling him a fierce competitor didn’t do him justice.
The phrase “your favorite player’s favorite player” gets thrown around a lot, but Halladay was that. Even opposing pitchers loved to watch him, he was that dedicated, that nasty, and that good. And he worked that hard. In a business full of hard workers, he was the hardest worker.
Former Phillies reliever Chad Durbin told ESPN: “When he would walk by you — after a 6 a.m. workout in spring training when stretching wasn’t until 10 — you’d think, ‘That’s what you would draw up a pitcher to look like: 6-foot-6, wide shouldered, with tree trunks for legs.’ Then you’d see him on the team plane with two laptops and a tablet open in front of him, watching all the at-bats of the guys he was going to face and taking extensive notes.”
And in retirement, he was starting to share his knowledge and insight with others, both in the Phillies organization and on the youth team that he coached.
You also didn’t have to know Roy Halladay that well to know how much he loved flying. Just go to his twitter page and you’ll see one pic after another of him sharing his excitement and joy for flying.
Last month, a video from the plane with the caption: Can’t begin to explain all the breathtaking views I have seen thru the open windows of demo’s & now my very own Icon A5! Thx to all at Icon!
Another with the note: What do clouds feel like? I didn’t know either until I got my new Icon A5! I’m getting bruises on my arms from constantly pinching myself!
I have dreamed about owning a A5 since I retired! Real life is better then my dreams!! Thx Kirk & everyone at ICONAircraft
Reading through his twitter page is heartbreaking because you see one pic after another with Roy and a plane, or Roy and his father, from whom he inherited the love of flying. And the last photo you see is a tweet from Sunday of a photo with Roy celebrating a championship with his son’s youth baseball team.
I’m not going to say at least he died doing what he loved, because there’s nothing positive about a 40-year-old with a wife and kids dying in a plane crash. But maybe that idea of him doing what he loved is something that will, maybe, possibly, bring some level of peace to his family in time.
But forget for a moment how great he was as a pitcher, and he was great, and just listen to what those who spent time with him say about him.
Ryan Howard tweeted: 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.
Dan Haren tweeted: I wanted to be Roy Halladay. I’m heartbroken, rest easy Doc.
Chase Utley on posted on Instagram: My heart hurts writing this. I can still remember the first day we met. It was 5:45am on the first day of spring training when I arrived. He was finishing his breakfast but his clothes were soaking wet. I asked if it was raining when he got in. He laughed and said “No I just finished my workout” I knew right then- he was the real deal. Thank you Roy for allowing us to witness what it takes to be the best. We will all miss you.
I could spend the entire show running down one story after another from a teammate or an opponent who loved and admired him. There is one story after another about Halladay’s legendary work ethic and his discipline. For example, Matt Gelb of Philly.com wrote he handled his perfect game against the Marlins 2010: The night he achieved perfection in Miami, he completed his normal 40-minute postgame workout before answering questions at a news conference. Halladay took a call from then-Vice President Joe Biden. He showered. He phoned his wife. He said goodnight to his sons, Braden and Ryan, who had watched every out. Then, he arrived at the ballpark the next day at 8:45 a.m. for another workout.
A few months later, he bought watches for 60 teammates and club employees, even the bat boy, with the inscription: “We did it together. Thanks, Roy Halladay.”
Former Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr said “My brother David got me a Rolex one year, and he said, ‘How come you don’t wear my watch?’ And I said, ‘I don’t wear your watch because Roy Halladay gave me this watch.'”
Rest in peace, Roy Halladay.