MLB Column: The death of Roy Halladay

A memento in remembrance of former Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay is shown outside Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017. Halladay, a two-time Cy Young Award winner who pitched a perfect game and a playoff no-hitter for the Phillies, died Tuesday when his private plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. He was 40. (Matt Rourke/AP)

The baseball world sat in shock Tuesday Nov. 7 after news that a body recovered in the Gulf of Mexico after a small plane crash was identified as Roy Halladay. Halladay was a two-time Cy Young winner and an eight-time All-Star. He won 203 games in his career, owns a perfect game and a postseason no-hitter and he is without a doubt a future Hall of Famer. He was only 40 years old.

After retirement, Halladay followed his passion for flying planes. His MLB contracts prevented him from doing so during his years playing, so he received his pilot’s license four years ago. Following in the footsteps of his father, a corporate pilot, many close friends of Halladay recall the passion he had.

In 2013, Halladay retired following a one-day contract with the Toronto Blue Jays. After spending the first twelve years of his career there, Halladay wanted to ensure he retired as a member of the organization.

In death, the stories emerging from players and reporters depict the life of a truly incredible man. Chase Utley, a teammate of Halladay’s while playing for the Phillies, recalled the day he met Roy. “It was 5:45 a.m. on the first day of spring training when I arrived. He was finishing his breakfast but his clothes were soaking wet. I asked if it was raining when he got in. He laughed and said, “No, I just finished my workout.”

 (Jose F. Moreno/Camden Courier-Post via AP, File)

Cole Hamels, also a Phillies teammate, went on to describe Halladay’s clubhouse presence. “He made everybody better. I think that is what you noticed. Wasn’t just ‘Roy Halladay is coming in to pitch.’ Roy Halladay brought a team with him to win. He made everyone rise up to the best of their abilities. What he did here was something special.”

After his perfect game, Halladay bought watches for each of his teammates and coaches, engraved with a thank you message. For him, an accomplishment was nothing without the help of the team behind him.

Yet, what mattered most to this incredible player was his family. Halladay leaves behind a wife and two sons. After retirement, Halladay coached the team his sons played on. Friends and family alike recall the dedication Halladay had to his family. Most of the stories I’ve read after his death are not tales of him as a player, but as a father.

“He was a selfless guy. Loved his sons; loved his sons to death,” Ryan Howard said after Halladay’s passing.

One reporter recalled a moment, after a bad start, when Halladay said, “my son just texted me that I’m his hero.”

I think I can speak for everyone at the Daily Campus when I say how heartbroken we are to see this man ripped away from his family at such a young age. I’m personally heartbroken, knowing that in a mere two years we will be seeing a posthumous induction to the Hall of Fame. That day will rival Tuesday in emotion and admiration for this truly incredible player. He will be missed.


Rachel Schaefer is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at rachel.schaefer@uconn.edu.