In a stunning and heartbreaking development, our worst fears were confirmed just after 4:15 p.m. this afternoon when Pasco County Sherrif Chris Nocco verified during a news conference that future Hall of Fame pitcher Roy Halladay was killed after crashing his Icon A5 aircraft in the Gulf of Mexico.
The confirmation of the tragedy culminated a surreal and gut-wrenching chain of social media developments that began shortly after 3 p.m. this afternoon. Unconfirmed rumors of a plane crash potentially involving Halladay quickly gave way to ominous reports linking the legendary pitcher to the plane in question. Thoughts and well-wishes from fans and media members soon flooded Twitter as we all hoped and prayed for somebody, anybody to refute the reports and calm our growing fears. Instead, as the deafening silence from those closest to Halladay loomed, the crushing and deeply saddening reality of the situation began to set in. While each of us will lovingly recall with awe his astonishing dominance as a transcendent athlete, we must also mourn for those who today lost a wonderful friend, dedicated father, loving husband and loyal family member. Roy Halladay was only 40 years old.
It’s true that much will be written and said in the coming days about Halladay’s on-field accomplishments. His 203 wins, two Cy Young Awards, eight All-Star appearances, perfect game, and postseason no-hitter, thrown after an agonizing 12-season wait to taste high-stakes October baseball, each contribute to what will be his enduring legend. Though his stint of dominance in this city was brief, it was simply spectacular. He compiled a 40-16 record over his first two seasons with the Phillies and was the author of a masterpiece that was, outside of the World Series clinchers in 1980 and 2008, the most memorable game in the franchise’s 135-year history. No baseball fan in this city will ever forget what he accomplished on October 6, 2010. It will forever be etched in our minds.
He understood this fan base and fed off its electricity, describing his time here as the “icing on the cake” to his career. His no-nonsense demeanor and aggressive approach on the field quickly earned him our respect. His unrivaled dedication to his craft and notorious work ethic forever earned him our love. He was easy to love. Halladay and Philadelphia was the perfect match. His time here serves as a microcosm for his own life—both were brilliant, and both ended far, far too soon.