Roy Halladay, eight-time All-Star pitcher, killed in plane crash off Florida coast

Roy Halladay, an eight-time All-Star for the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies who stood among the finest pitchers of his generation, died on Tuesday after a small aircraft he was flying crashed into the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida. He was 40.

The Pasco County sheriff’s office responded to a call of a plane crash from a private residence at 12.06pm local time to find an Icon A5 light sport aircraft registered to Halladay upside-down in shallow water about 10 miles west of St Petersburg.

Sheriff Chris Nocco said at 4.16pm that the search-and-rescue mission had become a recovery, confirming the sole victim of the accident was Halladay, who played 16 major league seasons between 1998 and 2013.

“Many know Roy as a Cy Young winner, a future Hall of Famer, one of best pitchers to ever pitch in the game of baseball,” Nocco said. “We know Roy as a person, as a caring husband who loved his wife Brandy and loved his two sons tremendously.”

Nocco said no mayday call was received by the Tampa Bay airport and referred questions about the crash to the National Transportation Safety Board, who will be leading the investigation.

The Phillies released a statement shortly after Halladay’s death was confirmed.

“We are numb over the very tragic news about Roy Halladay’s untimely death,” the team 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. It is with the heaviest of hearts that we pass along our condolences to Brandy, Ryan and Braden.”

Halladay, nicknamed Doc, retired with a 203-105 record, a 3.38 ERA and 2,117 strikeouts in 416 career appearances, including 67 complete games and 20 shutouts, both tops among active players at the time of his retirement.

The imposing 6ft 6in right-hander enjoyed his career season as the ace of the Phillies’ pitching staff in 2010, when he pitched the 20th perfect game in major league history in a May game against the Florida Marlins.

That fall, Halladay became only the second player ever to pitch a no-hitter in the postseason, after Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series, in the National League Division Series opener against the Cincinnati Reds.

Halladay had joined the Phillies in a 2009 trade after a decorated 12-year stint with the Blue Jays, which included six All-Star appearances.

Back and shoulder injuries that mounted over final two seasons forced him to retire in 2013 as one of only six players in baseball history to win the Cy Young award in both the American and National Leagues. He was eligible for induction to the Hall of Fame in 2019.

Halladay, an amateur pilot, had recently purchased the single-engine, two-passenger plane, according to photos shared on his verified Twitter account in October.

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!

Icon posted a video last month featuring Halladay taking possession of the plane in which the former pitcher said he’d been prohibited from acquiring his pilot’s license during his playing career under the terms of his contract.

“When I retired that was one of the first things I wanted to do,” Halladay said in the clip, adding playfully that his wife “fought me the whole way” and was against the idea.

“Hard. I fought hard. I was very against it,” Brandy Halladay said in the video, before describing how she ultimately came to understand the allure of the sky.

“Flying planes, that was his passion,” said Nocco, who urged gathered media to refrain from going to Halladay’s family’s home so they could have time to grieve. “He would talk about refurbishing planes. I know he had family that were involved with flying, including his dad. He was one in a million. It is a true loss for us.”

Nocco added: “I can speak as somebody who knew him, he was a part of our sheriff’s office. His kids went to school with some of our kids. He was there whenever we needed him. He was probably one of the most humble human beings you’ll never meet.

“It’s a sad day for anybody who loves Major League Baseball, but it’s an even sadder day for the family.”

Source: theguardian.com

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