Roy Halladay, the ace pitcher who authored a Phillies perfect game and postseason no-hitter and could manipulate a baseball unlike few in his generation, died Tuesday when his small plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico.
The Pasco County (Fla.) Sheriff’s Office confirmed Halladay’s death in a news conference. Authorities said Halladay’s plane, an ICON A5 light sport aircraft, crashed 10 miles west of St. Petersburg, Fla., around 1 p.m. ET. Halladay, 40, was the only one aboard.
Halladay, who had worked this season as a part-time employee for the Phillies with a focus on the mental side of the game, was an avid flyer. He often tweeted about his time in the air. Halladay said last March that he had accrued about 800 hours in the air. He had received his instrument rating and multi-engine rating. He was working toward a commercial rating.
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“I’m trying to progress through it,” Halladay said in March. “I’d like to be able to instruct so I can teach my boys. I’d like to try to finish that up.”
Police said they couldn’t confirm if there were additional passengers on the plane or say where it was headed.
“We are numb over the very tragic news about Roy Halladay’s untimely death,” the Philadelphia 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.”
As a member of the Blue Jays, Halladay won the American League Cy Young Award in 2003, and won the National League Cy Young for Philadelphia in 2010.
He was a 2003 Blue Jays teammate of Cory Lidle, a Toronto pitcher whose plane crashed into a residential building in New York City in 2006. Lidle was with the Yankees at that point.
Halladay's best season came in 2003, when he was 22-7 with a 3.25 ERA for the Blue Jays. He went 21-10 with a 2.44 ERA in 2010 for the Phillies.
He appeared in eight All-Star Games -- five for the AL with the Blue Jays in 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2008, and three for the NL with the Phillies in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Known as a fierce competitor on the mound, Halladay was dominant in his first two seasons with the Phillies. He pitched a perfect game in Miami on May 29, 2010, then followed it with a no-hitter against Cincinnati in Game 1 of a 2010 National League division series at Citizens Bank Park. It was his first postseason start in his 13th season, and so awaited in Major League Baseball, with an unparalleled result.
His final two seasons with the Phillies, who acquired him in a December 2009 blockbuster trade with Toronto, were beset with injury. He threw just 16 pitches in a Sept. 23, 2013 start at Marlins Park until he could no longer continue. It was the end of a spectacular career.
Halladay threw 67 complete games at a time when the nine-inning starter had become a rare breed. He survived a 2001 demotion from the majors to A-ball, a humiliation that became the driving force behind his emphasis on the mental skills required to pitch. He found solace in sports psychologist Harvey Dorfman’s book, “The Mental ABC’s of Pitching.” Those words, because of Halladay, became regular reading in organizations all across baseball.
One day, he could be honored in Cooperstown. If so, it will be posthumous.
“It would obviously be a tremendous honor. I don’t know what to think about it honestly,” Halladay said last spring. “You see guys get in that are deserving, and you see guys that are possibly deserving that don’t get in. Boy, it’s a tough thing to figure out. But absolutely I would love to be there. I think every player who ever played the game would love to be there.”
Numerous players in the Phillies organization praised Halladay this season for his guidance. Halladay, who devoted his time in retirement to coaching his sons’ baseball teams, found purpose in working with younger players.
“If I can share anything that'll help them,” Halladay said last March, “that’s awesome.”
Joe Ostermeier of the Belleville News-Democrat and the Associated Press contributed to this report.