HOLIDAY, Fla. (CBSNewYork) — Two-time Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay was killed Tuesday when his single-engine airplane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida, police confirmed. He was 40.
The Icon A5 plane crashed about 10 miles west of St. Petersburg around 1 p.m., the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said. Halladay, an eight-time All-Star, was the only person aboard the two-seater aircraft, police said.
The cause of the crash is under investigation, which will be led by the National Transportation Safety Board.
Sheriff Chris Nocco said his department knew Halladay and his family well. The former Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies star participated in a charity fishing event last week and donated to the sheriff’s office a dog, which was named “Doc,” also Halladay’s nickname.
“Many know Roy as a Cy Young winner, a 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, and he loved his two boys tremendously. He coached their baseball teams. I can tell you when he spoke of his family, he spoke proudly.
“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 ever met. For somebody who won two Cy Youngs — as I said, one of the greatest pitchers in baseball — he would walk in a room as if he was anybody. Didn’t matter who he met. He was kind, generous.”
The 17th overall pick in the 1995 draft out of high school, the Colorado native pitched 15 seasons in the majors from 1999-2013 — 11 years with the Blue Jays, four years with the Phillies. The 6-foot-6 right-hander had a 203-105 career record with a 3.38 ERA and 2,117 strikeouts. He won Cy Youngs in 2003 with Toronto and 2010 with Philadelphia, leading the majors in wins each of those years.
Halladay pitched a perfect game against the Florida Marlins in May 2010 and then a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds in the National League Division Series that same season, becoming just the second pitcher ever to throw a no-hitter in the postseason — the other being Yankee Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series.
Halladay retired in 2013 due to back problems. He will be eligible for election to the baseball Hall of Fame in 2019.
He is survived by a wife and two sons.
Halladay had a pilot’s license and often posted about flying on social media.
In a video for Icon Aircraft, Halladay said he grew up around planes because his father is a corporate pilot. He said he always wanted to get his pilot’s license but couldn’t because of his baseball career.
“When I retired, that was one of the first things I wanted to do,” he said.
In the video, Halladay said his wife was initially opposed to him flying planes.
Other baseball players to die in plane crashes include Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente (1972), Yankees catcher Thurman Munson (1979) and Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle (2006).
As WFAN’s Sweeny Murti noted Tuesday, Halladay was teammates in Toronto with Cory Lidle, who was killed when the small plane carrying him and his flight instructor crashed into a Manhattan apartment building.
The Phillies released a statement Tuesday saying the organization is “numb over the very tragic news about Roy Halladay’s untimely death.”
“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,” the statement said. “It is with the heaviest of hearts that we pass along our condolences to Brandy, Ryan and Braden.”
The Blue Jays said: “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. 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.”
Major League Baseball tweeted: “We are saddened by the tragic news that Roy Halladay … has died in a plane crash.”
Former and current major leaguers also took to Twitter to express their sympathies.