It was another normal Tuesday, or at least that’s what it seemed like. I was scrolling through my newsfeed on Facebook when I learned that former Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies star pitcher Roy “Doc” Halladay, 40, had died in a plane crash. I couldn’t believe it.
The two-time Cy Young award winner was flying his ICON A5, a small single-engine plane, near the gulf of Mexico when he plummeted into shallow water right off the coast of Florida. He had received his pilot’s license a year ago. Halladay left behind a wife and two children.
My earlier memories of Halladay on the mound were in 2004, when I first started watching baseball. My career as a fan couldn’t have started at a better time, with the Red Sox breaking the 86-year championship drought with a sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals. But I quickly became involved with other teams too. I wanted to know about all 30 of them. Looking up statistics brought me great joy, and that’s how I learned about Halladay.
It didn’t take me long to realize how well he pitched. His statistics didn’t do his skill justice. You had to watch the man, because he made it an art. Being an avid Red Sox fan I always cringed when we faced Halladay, because I knew that while our staff wasn’t bad at the time, Halladay was better than anyone they were trotting out.
He ate up innings better than anyone else through 2000-2010. He eclipsed the 200 innings pitched mark eight times in his 16-year career, including a career high 266 in 2003, when he won the first of his two Cy Young awards.
Throughout his 16-year career, Halladay made the All-Star game eight times. He played the first 12 seasons in Toronto (1998-2009), and his final four in Philadelphia (2010-2013). Despite Halladay’s decade-long dominance on the other side of the border, his best season arguably came in 2010. Halladay became only the fifth pitcher in Major League Baseball (MLB) history to throw two no-hitters in one season, with one of them being a perfect game. One of his no-hitters came in game one of the divisional round playoffs against the Cincinnati Reds. He was the first pitcher since Don Larsen in 1956 to pitch a no-hitter in the playoffs.
Any follower of baseball, myself included, could spend hours talking about all of Halladay’s accomplishments throughout his storied career. But Halladay’s presence went beyond the baseball diamond. He was a great human being who was well respected by all players throughout the game. That’s what many fans, myself included, and players admired about him most — his humbleness, his calm presence. He never treated any situation in baseball too big, which explains his prolonged excellence over the years.
I looked up to Halladay. Being a pitcher myself, he was someone whom I always loved to watch, even if he was pitching against Boston. One of the best stories I heard came a couple of months after Halladay tossed his perfect game against the then Florida Marlins on May 29, 2010. He bought each one of his teammates, along with members of the organization as well, a watch — 60 in total. On the back he had the date of the game, the final score and the individual’s name engraved on it. He also had the words “we did it together” etched in as well. It truly speaks to what kind of guy Halladay was, on and off the mound. Definitely a great teammate and friend, and one any would player would enjoying having in the dugout.
You’ll be missed, Doc, but you’ll never be forgotten.